On the Nakedness of Writing

In the last few days, I’ve noticed a shift in my writing.

(One thing to get accustomed to about writers is how endlessly they can write about writing in the same way that philosophers can philosophize endlessly about philosophy. I’m not sure if it does me any good that I’m both a writer and a philosopher.)

At any rate, as I’ve said, there’s been a distinct shift in how I write—characterized by what I can only describe as a decreasing regard for style (in the poised and polished sense of the word).

Part of this is attributable to age. In my teens, I used to write witty little pieces of almost embarrasing pomposity. Then there was a long lull of non-creativity, interrupted only by infrequent literary outbursts of increasing sobriety. The years have stripped me of my self-assuredness—along with the un-self-conscious pretentiousness that comes along with it.

The rest of the shift is attributable to the rigors of writing daily. Frankly speaking, I’ve exhausted all my gimmicks; there’s a limit to how much artifice I can generate and apparently I’ve reached it. I’ve run out of objects on which to train humor, wit and irony (the tools I’ve always relied on as a shield for my vulnerability). I’ve exhausted the possibilities of readily available genres. All the wells have dried up—except for the one that renews itself constantly simply because it’s the stuff of life itself: in other words, the minutiae that is my daily life, the banalities that don’t need dressing up because it’s their very nakedness that counts.

I’ve always resisted writing with this degree of intimacy. I’ll resort to it every so often, but on every occasion I’ll always hold something back. The awareness that an audience exists—and that it’s largely constituted by people whose opinions of me count far too much—has always been the cause of this otherwise uncharacteristic hesitation.

But like I’ve said, there’s nothing left for me to say. And I don’t find it a bad thing at all. On the contrary, perhaps all the previous months of writing were meant to bring me to this point: to this point of risking resistance, ridicule and objection for the sake of unadulterated expression.

And so, after a decade-and-a-half, I’ve come full circle. If I started writing with the need to believe that I had an audience, I can only write now under the illusion that I don’t have one. And this, I think, is just as it should be.


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