Today presents a fresh start and a new beginning; the Pendulum swings once again. To explain the context of this space, I begin by quoting from my old journal on the subject of writing.
My words will never be good enough. They do not deal with the situation. They do not settle the fractured complexities that harbour themselves. They don’t suffer the test of time. They struggle to sit right for me. This is a preoccupation that has refused to go away. I feel a great weight of expectation upon my writing. I follow friends’ journals that have power, and professional journals that inspire me, and I feel frustratingly left behind…
Tara Brabazon has said recently that ‘All of us, including postgraduates, learn to write by writing’ (Times Higher Education)… The positive academic start to university seemed largely indebted to the methods of expression and the wealth of creativity that had surfaced through writing online. Spontaneity then took over. Academic work seemed to suffer from the same kind of arbitrary spontaneity and carelessness. As third year approached… the journal started to bear the dense responsibility for carving a life after graduation, and the new preoccupations that would govern the indefinite next stage of life. Academic work became the top priority over journaling, and I have never looked back from that. But it has clearly showed me that writing is a behaviour. You may learn to write by writing, but one learns behaviourally whatever is practiced most often.
There are strange conundrums at play. A sister journal was created to split two streams of consciousness. It is an experiment that has worked to some degree, but a chiastic amalgamation has uncomfortably manifested itself: a personal touch has entered my academic discourse, while an academic touch remains within my personal discourse. Rustic academic methods have instilled themselves so deep within that it seems that they are all I know. Sometimes it pays to remind myself… academia is not a profession that one can dissociate themselves from, but a way of life. I may wish for freedom and spontaneity to some degree, but it would scare me to compromise the stringent discipline that governs my writing now. I can spend several days writing, editing, and re-editing a single page; there is a single-minded drive for perfection … While these standards govern me, I think aggressively about method when the very idea of writing emerges. I want clarity, and relevance. I am capable: the introductions written for the Features section of Noted (Spring 2008 and Autumn 2008 issues) link all sorts together, but it takes scrupulous effort, and the end product is consciously a very different kind of achievement to the journal entries of old. More like ticking mental boxes rather than tipping mental poxes.
I’m also both confused and intrigued by the psychology of space, a further conundrum. The journal box has grown into a space to be scared of, a den of iniquity. What is the white space of comfort? … Investigations about the increasing difficulties in writing have yielded a number of answers. The polity of audience has been one; attempted respect to friendship; changing priorities; and now the semantics of the aesthetic and the psychology of space.
I have long endured a rich but troubled relationship with writing. In training for a profession where publishing unique and high quality research is the endgame, I have become increasingly cautious about writing. Two existing journals will merge here. One, a personal journal, approaches six years of age. The second started three years ago to siphon the academic thread of my thoughts away to a smaller contingent.
It was impossible to predict, but academia did prevail, and brought with it the start, and all too swift end, of a new life abroad. Academia pervades character, emotions and thought. It influences how you think about aspects of everyday life. Keeping separate journals for separate purposes is no longer a easy prospect. Additionally, each space forges an identity. A journal of nearly six years often proves less familiar and more distant. In the trivial ephemera of the digital age, it is a treasured antique, and needs more care and attention with age. Yet, more care and attention to the content is only further mental red tape, and so a difficult cycle continues.
Something has been missing for some time: a space for diversifying and attempting something new. To provide some sense of context, a number of old entries have been imported. It may take time to adjust here, as I come to terms with a third, all-encompassing portal, but if it provides the key to liberty it will all be worthwhile. Most importantly, if one does learn behaviourally that which is practiced most often, it cannot be left to caution and silence. Time to write again.