‘Write About What You Know’
Simple words in a simple statement. Told to me by my at times daunting Year 11 English teacher; the incomparable Mrs Rawle. A woman in her forties, with an early 1980’s feathered pixie haircut, [think Princess Di in 1983], who had a preference for long , tasteful yet drab woollen skirts, tweed blazer jackets and peach-coloured blouses. Her sternness, discipline and voice of authority is something that I’ll never forget. Her finely elegant Cultivated Australian accent would not have been out-of-place were she a news presenter on the ABC. This was no woman to take lightly. Or to upset, or not take seriously. I still recall when we had a book review assessment she was not too happy I chose to review Star Wars: Spectre Of The Past. I mean, hey, how could I help myself, it was about the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn! She had a Christianne Amanpour thing happening, and she scared the shit and bejesus out of me when we had her for Advanced English in my final form. Her word was law. She was Mrs Rawle. Her voice had a drawl.
An example of when she used ‘The Voice’, as I like to call it, she would inform us that no no no, ‘Text Types Were The Flavour Of The Month’, and that indeed, Genres were here to stay. I still recall one of my supremely intelligent classmates [who I think is an astrophysicist or some such other intimidating occupation that requires boundless brain ‘grey-matter’] imitating her low Soprano drawl impeccably. So, the one thing after all these years I took from her was that statement, ‘Write About What You Know.’
These words have echoed in my mind recently, as I wonder why I continue to write this blog. Why do I bother? Why do I write at all? Does anyone read what I write and take anything from it for themselves? Far from being the most eloquent wordsmith around, [that honour goes to the impeccable and incomparable Nic Holas, a creature of the divine who I wish I could emulate a fraction of] I continually feel as though my writing leaves a lot to be desired, is unpolished, rough and requires consistent re-editing. Which then spirals into a cycle of self-wallowing and not being productive. And eating many Maxibons. And not knuckling down and writing. So why do I indeed bother?
I’ve been feeling somewhat flat, and very self-reflective of late. Hence the lack of posts. It must have something to do with the fact that I continually and endlessly self-evaluate and assess myself on an almost daily basis. Crap job. Check. Minimal amounts of money coming into my bank account. Check. I feel as though the clock inside me is ticking inexorably, and that the hands and seconds are gradually speeding up. Minute by minute, second by second, I instinctively can sense the great gaping yaw of the remainder of my life calling, and from where I sit now it’s gloomy, misty and has some more Graveyard style clichés such as cobwebs and skeletons. It’s such a ridiculous First World problem. I have a secure job, a loving partner and a roof over my head. I guess it just comes back to the more and more common fact that Western culture is facing an identity/prosperity crisis. Call it an add-on effect of being over thirty and having little to no career prospects, this being my main worry in life which is turning hairs grey, adding lines to my face etc. Not to mention the life-talks with my dad which seem to be occurring on a more and more regular basis. According to him I need to move to China and focus on Photography there. Regardless of the fact all I would have to go on in Mandarin is what I learned in Year 8.
I just feel like I’m running out of time, and that now is the place and moment for me to work. Work towards something. Anything at all. I feel the compulsion to write as I want to contribute, and create something bigger than myself. And yes, maybe some form of recognition for something.
Once upon a time in my younger days I used to fantasise about joining the Army. Not for any particular reason, although men in uniform are a major turn-on but purely for the pleasure and longing to belong. To belong to an organised structure where I know my place; my objectives, have clear orders and know that in my own small part I could be contributing positively and productively to society. My dad, being a conscript Paratrooper in the Italian Army in the 1960’s imbued the positives of Army life into me as a youngster. He had so many stories to tell, and always ended his Army-days stories with a final conclusion such as ‘the Army is a good place to learn and gain experience’. This brings me back to my earlier point that today, we don’t have a notion of ‘knowing our station’ in life, and being simply content. Some excel at making waves in their lives. I don’t know if this is something inherent to one’s personality, or if it is gained through making experiences and inevitably, mistakes. He Who Dares Wins is an old saying that comes to mind.
Others are merely content to drift.
So why do I write at all? What is it that drives me to punch these words into my keyboard? I write as I don’t want to be a drifter. I don’t simply want the waves of life to direct me where it will with little or no direction, rudderless and aimless. I don’t want my life to be a series of storms interspersing long periods of uneventful calm.
I feel as though I never try just hard enough, I never put just the right amount of effort into anything to make it last and have an impact on others. Perhaps it is recognition that I crave. Perhaps I seek validation through others, and interaction with those who read my posts. I want to know that what I write has some lasting effect on one other person. This is for you.