WHY I WRITE
and where to from here?
‘You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people
some of the time but you can't please all of the people all of the time.’
---- variation of a quote by Abraham Lincoln ----
I have written two pieces on the matter of beliefs. The first, a vignette titled To Believe or Not to Believe, That is the Question recounts an interaction I had with a born-again Christian regarding the difference between beliefs and knowing, and how the former plays a pivotal role in the development of fundamentalism. The piece was written in first-person present tense, and in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
I ‘knew’ as a child that beliefs were nonsensical, but was not fully sensitised to how others around me did not. I wasn’t aware of their strong tendencies to identify with religions, nationalities, or even ideas or beliefs. It wasn’t until an incident occurred in my ninth year with an Italian Catholic boy who lived on the other side of the fence that I realised the negative effects identification had on peoples’ lives, especially their relationships with others. The question ‘If Italy and Australia went to war, would we have to fight each other?’ simply appeared in my mind. The incident was a pivotal moment in my life so I initially titled the book:
The Other Side of the Fence
Confessions of a Post-Spiritual Mavericka sort of memoir
The term ‘Post-Spiritual’ is used to show that, after having persisted in a conventional ‘spiritual’ path for some years, I came out the other end no longer able to distinguish between what was spiritual and what was not spiritual. That is, what I once set-aside as a genuine spiritual endeavour, I eventually came to see as just another divisive activity, albeit a more subtle and sophisticated one. The ‘maverick’ bit adds a slightly comical aspect to the title, and is used to suggest both an unconventional person as well as a one-of-a-kind type of person (which, of course, we all are anyway). The word ‘confessions’ is used because I am revealing aspects of myself that are less than flattering. The entire work is proposed as a ‘sort of memoir’ because a few stories did not actually occur although they are based on real experiences. Those stories are obvious, like for example, ‘The Day I Uploaded My Ego’. Clearly, it is not possible to be free of one’s ego by transferring it onto the Internet. (Or is it?)
Although the characters in the book really appeared, and the incidents portrayed did occur, they are all incidentals to the main themes. Basically, I use personalities as props to place in settings, as a director would in a theatrical play or movie. They are a means to show how I view the world, the lens through which I see and interpret things. I could simply say that beliefs have nothing to do with the Truth; however, without putting such a notion into the context of everyday life, what I proclaim would inevitably be viewed by others as highly improbable. Even in context, most people don’t believe me!
So as to best present my point-of-view, I have now incorporated both styles of writing, as well as included a few poems. The first-person present tense approach will appear in the book as vignettes, to give the reader some sense of what informs me and where I am at in real-time. In-between the vignettes, I will include short stories, essays and poems that to some extent will present events in a more chronological order. I suspect the essays will have greater appeal for the left-brain types who require logical argumentation, while the right-brain types are more likely to find the vignettes appealing. Ultimately, I want to show that, although rational thinking and proficient writing have a place in the communication of ideas, the vignettes add a fuller perspective by bringing them vividly into life.
Of all the challenges that must be faced in the writing of a memoir, the biggest one for me is whether I have the insight, and the courage, to remove the gap between who I really am and how much I am willing to reveal. If I can do this with honesty and integrity, the struggle to write the memoir will have been worthwhile, for myself, and hopefully, for others as well.
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