It’s hard for me to speak, whether in English or Afrikaans. The reason I write is because I cannot speak. I feel blunt. – Antjie Krog
My history with writing is borne from a peculiar context. At the age of 8 my mother gave me a journal, with a lock and key – for all thoughts I wasn’t telling her. For the waves of emotions that only a child feels as keenly. So began a habit I’ve carried with me my entire life. I think I’ve filled more than 36 notebooks with my words and doodles. Writing was always presented to me as a pressure release valve and reading as a form of escape and nothing about that has changed. There is a comfort from a familiar book that no-one else can give to me.
These two actions – writing and reading – have sustained me. Even though Virginia Woolf may not think of journaling as writing, per say, I do. Diaries, are by nature, very personal. No-one reads mine, unless I decide to share an excerpt with someone else. This has been the longest I’ve ever persisted with an action – besides basic biological ones. My relationship with writing is coloured blue because of it. I still childishly believe that the best writing presents itself when the writer is an observant, yet terribly sorrowful person.
I write to understand the world around me, too. The only means to understand a world as chaotic, upsetting and occasionally wonderful is to jot down thoughts and feelings on something tactile (never a computer!). As Joan Didion says in her piece entitled Why I write, when life presents her with questions, she looks to writing to understand these questions and find answers. Sometimes, aspects of life are only understood in the process of writing.
And looking back through my work, I see that it is invariably where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally. – George Orwell
Writing will always be an outlet for me. It will be a way to resolve my own emotions, as it has been in the past. As self-reflexive as my writing is, I seek it to speak out to other people. Things I write on this blog, for instance, may be rooted in my own singular experiences, but it does deal with issues that affect a multitude of people – issues of class, gender and race. The personal is definitely the political.