It’s 2.45am, which gives me the itch to start writing again.
I tell many of my friends that I write optimally between 1 and 4 in the morning, but truthfully optimal writing hours are just another facet of established routine. I could just as easily write best at 2.45 in the afternoon. Of course, it’s nice to paint a little portrait of myself as some kind of nocturnal blogger, but there’s really nothing dramatically different about writing in the nighttime than any other time – unless it’s the quietness that almost every writer craves. Although, that’s probably just be another product of routine. So far, I’ve tried not to be explicitly self-aware in my posts, because while writing is an inherently introspective task – it requires you to reach inwardly to tell a story about the outside world – I worry that self-consciousness in writing is a sign of the nervousness of publishing. It tries too hard to explain itself, and to offer some of the personality behind the words, and most of all it doesn’t let the words speak for themselves.
Nevertheless, today (tonight) I’m going to write about, well, writing. I’ve always been interested in alternatives and I think writing should provide that. Not only creative fiction that produces imagined worlds or alternative histories, but the very nature of writing should be to offer up possibilities. A world without alternative ideas is dangerous – this is why it is of course important that we have people like Mitt Romney, the GOP, and communism. In much the same way that the threat of communism serves as the conscience of capitalism, to ensure the winners of today don’t overdo or abuse their successes, alternative ideas fight off the complacency of today’s hegemony. I don’t want to live in a world where everyone agrees on the way that taxes should be cut, or where no one will argue with me that Justin Bieber sucks balls. That would mean that 1. no one cares enough to argue anymore, or 2. we’ve reached some enlightened stage of utopia where everything is perfect and nothing hurts, in which case Justin Bieber wouldn’t exist anyway.
Of course, writing is unquestionably tied to reading. I do a lot of reading, anytime I get a chance, at almost anything I come across that seems worthwhile, and I’ve noticed some conflicting realities that are particularly important to me. I’ve realised that journalism is a lot about criticising, and done well, by which I mean impartially, it’s about criticising everything. I’m not sure I want to be like that, but at the same time I know it’s possibly the best way you can fulfil that journalistic role – to be critical. To question everything, to be the tireless crusader, for even the slightest chance that you might open up a tiny window of alternative thinking in a reader’s head, that seems like a noble dream if anything.
Or is it better to be like a camera? To be the truth teller, to let readers take what they may and be the masters of their own thinking. To be a prism through which information passes, to be as neutral as Switzerland – this seems like another noble pursuit.
Deep down I’m still hoping there’s a way to reconcile these two despairingly different journalistic approaches, and maybe there is. Some of the best reads I’ve ever had are critical, hard-hitting, biting pieces of commentary, but at the same time wonderfully objective because its authors hate everything equally.
Because what is writing if not to challenge what the norm is? If not to break down and destroy what is known and accepted and comfortable? If not to leave people with the new loneliness of knowing nothing, which then sets them free to start their own journey of information gathering and wisdom seeking? How do we ever know what is true anyway? Is it not too much to ask of journalists to make their stories true and not too leftist and not too rightist? If we don’t know what ‘truth’ is, then why should they? Should we not make our own assessments, in spite of all the criticism and bias that is thrown at us between the lines?
I want to create alternatives. I want people to think about the alternatives that exist, and to think up of new ones. When the time comes, I hope that this will happen no matter whether I am writing as a critical bitch or as a camera.