One of the quickest ways I know to relieve myself of writer’s block is to visit the blogs of a very dear friend of mine by the name of J.*
I first met J. nearly a decade ago when I did a retreat towards the end of my university life. There wasn’t much opportunity for us to interact then, but that initial context (of earnest, almost agonized, searching) set the tenor for the friendship that would only emerge much later on. Thereafter, our paths crossed in almostly exclusively existential pursuits—first in philosophy and later on in secularized religion.
So what are the things I love about J. and her writing? Some of the top things that come to mind (among the many) are:
- The courage of her exposition. Few people (and perhaps even fewer writers) dissect and expose their frailties with as much candor, compassion and detachment as J. does. Writing involves a balance between authenticity and artifice—my own instinct for self-preservation has tended to favor the latter. I’ll bare my weaknesses, my vulnerabilites and my eccentricities, yes, but only after much calculation and consideration. At the end of the day, there’s always completion, resolution, finality, closure. Not so with J., at least not in the way I read her work. I find her writing touching and endearing, real yet self-deprecating, occasionally anguished but always tongue-in-cheek. There’s courage in it—enormous amounts, in fact.
- The lucidity of her insights. J. wrestles with the same things that I do—with the same issues that plague so many of our generation—but she sees and experiences them with a different perspective. Her views shed new light and offer not just solace (that I’m not alone) but illumination as well (that I didn’t think of that in this way before).
- The originality of her phrasing. I just love the way she says things and sees things (isn’t all saying a seeing?). There are so many gems in her writing—startling turns of phrase and whimsical amalgamations of words—that have me stop and ask: why haven’t I ever said it in that particular way before? It inspires envy—fortunately less of it than awe.
And all of this is really just my way of saying: Thank you J.—for encouraging me, for inspiring me and for nourishing me. Much of who I am today as a person and as a writer is because of you, and, I am truly grateful. 🙂
* I’ve long attempted to link J.’s blogs to mine by featuring them in a blogroll, but that appears to be an impossibility given the allowable settings on my current theme. For lovers of words, you can visit her Tracks and Traces blog which is also hosted at WordPress.