Writing is my hobby. I am not a particularly talented writer. I can’t spell for a start. My grammar can be a little off at times. I am not particularly creative either. I have tried writing poetry a few times but I lack any sense of rhyme or rhythm. My vocabulary is surprisingly limited. My limited vocabulary is related to my deafness. I lack the ability to overhear; most new words that I have learnt are through reading. If I was hearing I would learn words through a variety of outlets. Just sitting on the train and overhearing conversations can build ones vocabulary. Media like talk back radio and even popular music can build ones vocabulary. These things are denied me so like many deaf people I compensate by reading. This is why I know many words but cannot pronounce them for shit. I learnt recently that I pronounced the word access as axis when my Auslan interpreter became my speech therapist. But I digress, I am supposed to be examining why I write.
Of late I have been examining why I write. I write for many reasons. I write because certain things piss me off. Rather than bottle this in I put it to paper. I write because I hate prejudice and discrimination and by writing I create awareness and hopefully help to reduce these twin evils. I have an ego too; I write because I love the response. I could write and just store my writing away from the public but what is the point of that? I don’t care what the response is sometimes. It can be positive or it can be negative. But it gives me a buzz that something that I have written has stirred someone’s thought process to the point that they feel a need to respond.
I write to be controversial. Not just for controversy sake but because controversy is often the trigger for change. Cynthia J Mcgean attempts to explain why writers write at her Blog. She has this to say of writers, “We have a duty to bear witness, to ask difficult questions, to generate conversation, perhaps even controversy. Sometimes, we come down on one side, sometimes another, but often the writer’s role is to explore the complicated world of the in-between.” This very much sums up my motivation for writing, particularly the controversy part.
Some people fear controversy but it is not always a bad thing. Used correctly controversy can be a trigger for change. There just has to be a little method to the madness. As Melanie Brooks explains on her Blog, “My goal in writing something controversial is to never regret writing it. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me…” Brookes over all aim is “ … Creating a dialogue with my ideas is the ultimate goal, whether I am praised or shunned. It’s good to have strong opinions.” That pretty much sums up how I approach my writing.
What really inspires me to write is knowing that there are people who have an opinion about things but for whatever reason they cannot express this view. They may not have the confidence or simply they feel that no one will listen. These people often talk among their friends. They complain, they praise, they lament and they seek answers but they fear doing this publicly for fear of ridicule. What I like to do is listen in to what these people are saying and then write about it. I try to put these ideas into the public platform so that they cannot be ignored. More importantly I do this so that the people that cannot find a way to be heard are heard.
Sometimes doing this inspires otherwise silent people to respond. Sometimes they write to me privately and sometimes they leave comments on The Rebuttal Blog. Sometimes they comment on Facebook but the real reward is that a dialogue is created where ideas are discussed. Sometimes they agree with me sometimes they are vehemently opposed to what I have written. But nevertheless they are motivated to respond and for many this is an empowering thing.
That not everyone agrees with what I say is a good thing too. On more than one occasion people have let me know that I am talking crap and I probably was. On more than one occasion an organisation has written in to put their side of the story and refute what I am saying. On more than one occasion I have been told to stop whinging and suggest a constructive way forward. All these responses are good too because every side of the story should be heard. Most importantly, just as I hold organisations to account, I should be held to account too.
Central to my writing is controversy. I aim to create controversy so that debate happens and energy to respond to issues is created. I could write dry unemotional pieces but these probably would have no impact at all. So my aim is to, without regret, challenge and highlight issues in a way that makes people think. People often fear controversy but in the scheme of things controversy is actually very important. Anurag Bhateja on their Blog defines controversy as, “a state of prolonged public dispute or debate, usually concerning a matter of opinion”. That sums up why many of us write, to express our own opinion and in the process encourage people to express theirs.
Hopefully this expression of opinion will create enough energy for people to want to take action. Human beings are generally a passive lot and sometimes a catalyst is needed to spur them into action. This might be challenging a well respected public figure like Graeme Innes or it might be challenging the direction of our representative organizations. Whatever the target or whatever the issue the aim is to stir the emotions of people so that they react and challenge.
Mark Twain once cynically said, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” And perhaps this is true for many of us that write. But by the same token if the people that are making decisions on our behalf, often against our wishes, and we all remain silent for fear of ridicule these people will carry on regardless and nothing in this world will change.
So I write and I write with no regrets, even when I get it wrong, because the intent is simply to try and make things a little bit better. Besides Oscar Wilde once said, “..Most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.” Perhaps that is a dictum that we should all live by.