Writing And Distancing

Written by Eki Akhwan

Lagi, saya alpa menulis untuk blog ini dua hari terakhir. Dan, lagi-lagi, saya harus mencari alasan untuk kealpaan itu. (This should translate as “Again, I have been absent from writing for this blog for the past two days. And, again and again, I have to find a reason for the absence.”)

So, what is it this time?

Partly, it’s the usual excuses: too busy with other higher-order life commitments — earning a living, among others; then, also the usual thing, indolence. But there is also another thing that is more deliberate and calculated: distancing!

Yes, I needed to take a break from my writing. I needed to create a distance from my words — from those I have written as well as those that have yet to make it on to the page — for the right reasons.

In the past two days, I have been reading (or re-reading) the pieces that I have written to get the feel of my own voice: its tone, its style, its inclination, its textures.

We, writers, know it only too well that we often can’t ‘hear’ our own voice while we’re pouring our words on to the paper. We and our voice were one — like the music and the dance. The music is there in our heads. The fingers are merely the dancers that move along with the music — sometimes consciously, most of the time instinctively, automatically (like that of an outomaton?). We don’t hear the music anymore than we feel how our fingers are moving in tune with that music in our heads.

Reading (or re-reading) our own words on paper — after they have been born and gotten separated from our bodies — gives us a chance to see, to hear, feel and experience what they say. It’s like watching a movie of our own performance, or listening to the song we have sung, where you (the spectator or the listener) are not the acts or the songs. Only there and then can you really see and hear the intricacies of the acts and the harmony of the tunes. Only there and then can you really appreciate them for their beauty or get shocked by their ugliness or disharmony. It’s a chance to learn to improve and refine for your next performances.

It’s a reflective pause we all need so that our ideas and our voice do not get foul and rotting for lack of refreshment. It’s like the air circulation that a room needs if we want to keep it healthy. The room in our heads — where ideas and words are intermingling, dancing — needs as much fresh air as a real room does to remain healthy and livable.

Taking a break from my words — my ideas — has taught me a lot of things. Recognizing my own voice is one. Then I also learned how to fine-tune my tones to suit the different needs of the subject matter; how to compose the tempo, the pitch, so that it can be more powerful — more forceful — in moving those cords of the hearts and minds that I wish to move. It has given me a chance to hone my skills in using the bolts and screws that I need to construct and assemble the structure that I wish to build, both for functionality and effect.

A writer, I believe, does not only put words together; he (she) commands them to perform what he wants them to perform. He gives them life so that they may speak on their own and be capable of producing and reproducing ideas that move hearts and minds.

So, did I need the break?

I certainly did! And would not feel too apologetic about it. I did need it, and will do — repeatedly — later.


Thank you for reading. I'd love to hear from you.

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