February 13, 2017

Of coffee and pen

Firstly, thank God, someone borrowed me his laptop and now I have got a lot of things to write. I used to dream of being a writer, specifically, a food and travelling writer not so long ago. But for some reasons, I lost interest on pursuing it. For the past couple of years, I came across few things and people that made me ask myself questions like, "Am I talented enough to be a writer?" To speak precisely, I did not think my English was good enough to qualify myself for this job. I did not think my English was eloquent enough for me to write sentences that can draw readers in. I thought, if I wanted to be a writer, by this time, I should already be able to write grammatically; confidently. 


Yes. That's what my real excuse: English. Good English speaks confidence. And my English is lack of confidence.For a while, I withdrew my intention of being a writer. I told to myself, I overrated my writing skill for no good reason. I was being too ambitious. I wanted to be someone of whom shoes are too big for my average-sized feet to put in.I began to doubt myself about many things. There would be a debate going on in my mind whose motion was, "Writers are born; not trained." Most of the times, I spoke on behalf of the Government - explaining to myself  how I was never born to be a writer. And most of the times, the Me in the Government won and the Me in the Opposition lost.


Recently, I was asked by a few friends of mine about whether I am interested in becoming a writer. They said, a columnist suits me very well. Some convinced me, that my English is reader-friendly to people who know, speak and use simple English. One of them said, I have this unique way of explaining things, which, reminds me of the comment written by my Poetry teacher back in my university life, "I love the way you explain your ideas" on my essay paper on A Rose for Emily's analysis. The other one said, my thoughts are inspiring, I should write and make it as a side income, if not as a full-time career.  And I replied their comments with the same explanation I gave to myself, "My English is not that good."

Last week, I wrote an e-mail to a lecturer of mine, sort of a letter actually. I got a reply from her in which she wrote, "Only God knows the satisfaction and joy when I read my students' letters to me. You write beautifully. I'm so proud of you. I see so much improvement in you when I was reading your letter. Keep it up. Stay strong." I was not anticipating for that kind of reply. All I wanted was for her to know what I've always thought about her. The least I expected, was a thank you reply.Deep down, I felt a spark of hope.

Maybe, I was not born to be a writer. Maybe, I was born to be trained to be one.I look back and try to find what is it that I always have in me. And I realise,  writing essay is something I enjoy doing the most ever since I knew how to hold a pencil. When I was in the secondary school, I was known to be the student who always scored well in Karangan Bahasa Melayu. During Bahasa Melayu test, other students would only write two page maximum for one essay question; but me on the other hand, would write three pages and more, for one essay question. Writing an essay is not just a matter of writing down introduction, thesis statement, points, body paragraph and conclusion. For me, writing an essay is about how we tell readers about ourselves through our words, style of writing and way of explaining without having to specifically tell them that we are this-and-that. 

Our introduction; how we make readers feel welcomed without having to lamely say a hello. Our way of presenting ideas; how we make our elaboration interesting. Our point of view; what vehicle we choose to take readers on to a trip and let them see the world from behind our orbit. 

Our ways of organising points. 

The cohesion. That little details we tend to spend time on: the choice of words, the use of adverbials to convey our degree of certainty on issues we address. The reason behind the subject chosen to be in the initial position in a sentence. Are we a "present-tense fan" or a "past-tense fan." I would say, I am a "present-tense fan." I want my readers to notice this fact, that I'm an appreciative person through my choice of tenses. I like present-tense because I believe it conveys appreciation. It makes facts sound convincing. It gives youth and life to our story, sense of being alive instead of dead. It makes things closer to us as well as to our readers, compared to past tense, which makes things so far away from us; old, outdated and forgotten. This whole thing needs a bit of psychology, discourse analysis and of course, one huge bowl of creativity and ample amount of practice.

And there is a reason why I enjoy writing for Literature more than Linguistics; because Literature allows me to be emphatic. It allows me to embody my emotion in my written words. Unlike Literature, Linguistics requires me to be serious and it even disallows the word 'very' which it sees as a form of exaggeration. Where, exaggeration is linked with emotion, and emotion is an opposite of rationale hence the reason why it is discouraged.

I have always been the person who enjoys writing a letter. Sometimes, I could write four to five paragraphs just to thank people. I value handwritten and snail-mailed letters, postcards and greetings cards more than anything.

And as I go on, I'm beginning to believe that to be a writer is an option worth a shot.

If good English speaks confidence, then improving English speaks determination.
And right now, if someone asks me what I want to be, I would answer, 
"I want to be a writer" 
and soothingly sip the cup of coffee in my hand; smiling.