Archive for July 18, 2010

“So you think you can WRITE” (Part III) and my confession about writing

Okay, I don’t see myself as a writer, never have.  I must confess that. Just like I never saw myself as a musician though I grew up in a very musical family.  But I enjoy both. What I’ve done to get other people to play their instrument (if I know they are good) is to start playing the piano or violin and then their bashfulness fades or I’m so pathetic that they MUST take over.  So too, it seems every family has a scribe in their family, someone who writes a lot of letters (like in the old days when we used postage stamps and envelopes) and who reads or experiences a lot in order to have content to write about.

As a writing teacher, I try to get my Kazakh and Kazakhstani students to write instead of me so that I can move over and let them tell me what I think is in their hearts. All my former students (American, Ukrainian) have something to write about because they have thoughts, important thoughts that need to be communicated.  I provide the structure and parameters and away they go….

That’s what writing is about right, to get your point across?  Some people may be eloquent or persuasive speakers, others are comical or have a dry wit which makes me laugh.  Others are erudite and quick on their feet.  Being a good communicator in speech does not necessarily make a good writer though it is beneficial if you possess both skills especially for politicians.  First, you have to win the campaign and then after you win and are elected, you serve your term.  After all the talk, THEN you can write memoirs about it. Memoirs are for those who have earned the “write” to put something on paper and perhaps have a great story to tell to inspire others.

Why have I been writing in a blog almost every day since January of 2006? (I started my first one in Kyiv, Ukraine).  That’s almost 2,000 entries, but I let others write while I showcase their writing, especially my students’ writing.  Why do I expose myself only to have people disagree with my position on politics or my teaching methodologies or whatever else I write about concerning Kazakhstan? I DO know I have detractors in my reading audience.

First, I don’t care what other people think about what my thoughts are, they don’t have to read my blog.  No one is making those who disagree with me read what I write.  Second, I write because it is therapeutic, I vent about what happens to me in this strange culture of Kazakhstan.  In the recent past, my Kazakh employers didn’t like seeing what I wrote however it helped me cope with a difficult and complex situation. So, I might still have Kazakhs or Kazakhstanis with ruffled feathers for what I perceive in their culture.  Fine, they can straighten me out but they just need to know that these are MY perceptions from a western point of view.  Other westerners might come away with other impressions, but are they writing about it? Third, despite the cultural snafus, I want to inform my reading audience about what a GREAT country this unknown land of Kazakhstan is.  The Kazakhs come from an oral culture, so there is not much written for us foreigners to get to know more about this marvelous land.  Therefore, I do the best I can to track what might be of relevance to my ever expanding view on this people group.

My aunt in North Carolina sent me an interesting link about writing in the digital age. The author of this article backtracked to Thomas Jefferson who wrote the Declaration of Independence but he did a lot of self-editing and also had outside readers proof his work.  This important document was a joint effort with much input and with many signing below at risk of their lives or livelihood.  Jessica Lewis, KELT director, is quoted as saying that the key to writing good plays is rewriting.  Yes, that is what writing teachers espouse as well. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite!!!

However, writing in the digital age, blogs are about self-expression and let everything hang out there, bad spelling, poor grammar, etc.  Yes, wrong thinking as well. I realize there is risk involved in what I write about my perceptions. It’s hazardous to do a once through and not revise and rewrite to get the words JUST right.  I know I need to do more self-editing and tighten up what I write but my guiding principle is to write EVERY DAY!!!  I had a Norwegian relative that I’ve researched (S.A. Olsness) who wrote in a journal or diary for 50 years and English happened to be his second language, Norwegian was his first.  He came up with a lot of excellent content that I’ve culled through.

I would hope that at the end of the day, I would have a blog that is worthy of giving good content in the future to an interested researcher or writer about what happens here in Kazakhstan.  I believe it is a very significant country sandwiched in between China and Russia.  I would also challenge other Kazakhs to check out the website for KELT and write a one-act play in English that would help inform audiences in the U.S. about this extremely important land.  I think you CAN write!!!  (I’ll just move over to watch this happen, PIONEER THE FUTURE!!!)

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