When do we start becoming writers?

When I first saw the title of this particular article I was quickly drawn to it.  It was a question that I had found myself asking myself over and over again: “when was it in my brain that I all of a sudden decided to start writing for more than just school related work?”  Perhaps what I took the most from the passage, however was James Baldwin’s responses which were simply “I don’t know” which, the more that I personally start to think about it, the more true that statement becomes.  I don’t truly know why i ever started writing for fun or what drives me to continue writing.  If anything i have had more things drive me away from writing than towards it yet i still continue to pound away at the keyboard for nights on end writing up drafts of poems and stories and anything else that my little mind can think of simply because i can.  I don’t know why i can but i just can.  The author made an interesting part about family influence, but i have the opposite: my mother is no avid writer by any means and no one else in my family even enjoys reading.  I guess i simply became a writer because that was what i was meant to be at this point in my life.  That answer works for me.

Rushdie!

Rushdie!

Perhaps one of the most influential and controversial writers of the modern era came to visit Rutgers a few weeks ago; Salman Rushdie: the critically acclaimed author of pieces such as “The Satanic Verses” and “In the South” was being projected onto a large screen in front of the Rutgers Multipurpose room. I quickly arrived and gathered myself in the back right corner of the room so that I could get a good view of him and also have easy access to the small table of books that was available to purchase (I ended up buying “The Satanic Verses “ on my way out). I knew right away that I was going to really enjoy his pieces just because of how much hype was surrounding him being at Rutgers, but to my complete surprise, not only was Rushdie extremely well-mannered and just a generally likable individual. Unlike a lot of authors in the world with fame, Rushdie was light hearted and seemed generally excited to be sharing the work that he had written with all of the people that were sitting (in multiple rooms) to watch him. He appeared to simply be a man whom at this point in his life is just happy to be alive and sharing his work with people that actually still enjoyed his art. Considering all of the controversy surrounding him; I cannot really blame him for this approach to reading in front of the audience and I truly was glad that he had gotten such a positive turnout (even though it was expected… I expected more hostility towards him and people only going to spite him, but everyone appeared to be there to actually enjoy the work.
Before Rushdie even started his readings, he opened with a very lengthy, but extremely interesting speech about the story behind his Memoir, which unlike most was written in the third person and giving his main character an alias of “Joseph Anton” which was the name that he was forced to live under during his exile under the Fatwa, after this history Rushdie did begin actually reading from his Memoir which was captivating and interesting. His blatant “Black Humor” was entertaining to say the least, causing seemingly inappropriate chuckles from him and the crowd of people in the multipurpose room. Rushdie said one of the most profound statements that I had ever heard when he was talking about dealing with NYPD. He made mention to the old statement “the pen is mightier than the sword” where he said one of the two of them was dead and that none should mess with novelists.
Rushdie was also able to depict a sex scene, however he said that it was something that he avoided for a long time, but eventually he decided that it was something that he, as an author must do in order to broaden his career and better himself as an author, this personally made me decide to go home and do that same thing and write about something I personally never thought I would ever write about. His depiction of the sex scene was lacking any real graphic information it was still really cool to see that he was willing to test the waters and do something new.
However, my absolute favorite piece of the night by him was his piece about being a young boy going to school as an Indian. This particular piece was extremely powerful and struck me the most out of any of his pieces that I have ever hears or read. While I do not remember the whole piece completely; the struggle of the protagonist wanting to stick up for his friend and ending up getting beaten by his teacher was extremely well written and read by Rushdie, whom while packing his words with tons of emotions and strong language on the page, read it relatively effortlessly in front of his audience. This honestly made me feel slightly uncomfortable (while still enjoying the work) because I kept thinking about all the discomfort that Rushdie himself must have felt while writing these, making me appreciate him even more.

What Rushdie taught me most (even though it probably was not his set mission to teach anyone this) it was that to be a writer, one must (more than anything) write from their own personal experiences and from their soul to get the best work out of you. Rushdie as a writer may have caused an uproar that almost cost him his life, but as a person he was simply writing from experience and wanted to share with the world his ideas. In the short story “In the South” that I read, a single quote helped me to realize that Rushdie was almost pained by the fact that he had to be an individual that had knowledge and was doing what he was doing. The quote “Be thankful we are men of the south,” Junior said, stretching and yawning. “Southerners are we, in the south of our city in the south of our country in the south of our continent. God be praised. We are warm, slow, and sensual guys, not like the cold fishes of the north” to me, showed that Rushdie (as he is on stage) is who he is as a person, simply someone whom enjoyed a laugh or two and wanted the simple life. If not for his crafting of “The Satanic Verses” and other novels of grotesque nature, perhaps he would be more adapt to live the life of a “man of the south.”
Moreover, Rushdie has truly opened my eyes as an author and a person. I am glad I went to see the event as it allowed me to realize just what it takes to be a successful writer like Rushdie.

PS my phone was dead for the presentation, this photo is from the Daily Targum of Rutgers.

Possible pieces for my final project.

Nothing

Thomas

Nothing but warmth, warmth but I’m not uncomfortable, no I am the opposite… I feel… at peace…

Stay with me!  Come on Tom, don’t do this to me!

Cathleen, oh my dear Cathleen, come with me into this warmth! It is nothing I have ever felt before but I just long to have your beautiful face for me to stare at right now… it is just so peaceful

Tom! Tom you need to please jus-

I can’t hear anything anymore… I can’t breathe, by god I can’t breathe oh my god I am going to die! Wait… I don’t need to breathe anymore; there is nothing for me to breathe into… I’m dead, I mean… I must be right? But where are the pearly gates? The angels singing great hymns as I flap my wings and ascend into heaven.  Where is my body… my being?  I can’t feel anything around me, I have no being and this place I am in has no substance.  Where can I be? This is no heaven; can it be Hell? Hell has fire and demons… no, no, no this is no Hell… I feel too peaceful to be in Hell… I see no fire, no brimstone of any sort…

I see nothing.

Why is there just blackness, no not even blackness just nothingness!  It is unlike anything I have ever seen before, for it is simply a void… nothing… now nothing is everything and I can’t remember a time before this nothingness, all I remember is a sound… a name, yes a name of something or someone… Cathleen… Cathleen… Cathleen… Christ that must mean something to me… but I don’t even know what “me” is… what was “me” and where is “me”… was I “me”?  I mean I must have been at some point…

Cathleen.

Cathleen.

Cathleen.

Why does that keep repeating I don’t even know what it means!  What is Cathleen?

Cathleen.

No, I don’t want to-

Cathleen.

I don’t want to acknowledge this sound anymore, please just leave me in this noth-

Cathleen.

Oh my God I don’t want to be dead, please oh please just let these thoughts go away of this “Cathleen”.  But wait: I remember now that that name represented a “she” and that she was married to the “me” and the “me” was at one time a part of “I”… by god, Cathleen!  I just want to scream out to my Cathleen!  I have nothing to scream out of though…

Where am I?… What am I?… Do I even exist anymore? Or is my existence simply a figment of some sort of distant reality that no longer applies to what I am.  I must have always been this way… there was really never a “me”… there was nothing.

Cathleen

                I know it will be ok Thomas… I know that it will be ok… I am sorry that I couldn’t save you… I am sorry that I let you slip away from me and leave this world prematurely… but it is ok: I know we will meet in heaven someday.

 

climb.

This heavy weight

Weighs down on my very soul,

As I move in the repetitive motions

To free myself from this burden.

I will never be free.

The wrath of the gods deems it so

As I sit all alone in this world.

Cold night approaches, yet I can

Never go home.  Damned to suffer

This monstrous task of climbing to

New heights, high above the

Reaches of the midnight blue sky.

Just to be thrown down again.

And again, and again.

I should give up.  Admit that I am

Defeated and hope and pray that maybe

Those that depend on me, will still be

Willing to stand by me. Nurture

Me back towards the warm embrace of

Piety so that I can go on in my

Life not ashamed of this plight

That I attempted.  But continue

To fail, I keep trying, pushing harder

Climbing faster: But to no

Avail.  Skinned knees and bloodied

Shirts become the norm.  A badge I wear

To show how many times I fell.

For when I fall, I always get

Back up, wipe my tears from my eyes

And look back up to the sky.

This is my story to write, and

I wont allow anyone else to pen in the ending.

I’ll push harder and harder

Up the sharp peaks that threaten

Those who damned me to crawl

On hands and knees for the possibility

To be free.  I will be free!

No matter if it takes

A lifetime of dealing with their twisted

Lies and laughter that they throw in my

Face.  I will take it; grow from it, and eventually

Stand tall above those who doubted me.

They will beg for forgiveness and I will feel

The need to hold them down like they

Tried to do to me.  But I wont, I wont allow

Myself to dive into the sea of wrath and bathe

In the waves of pleasure I get from causing their pain.

My success, will pain them enough.

 

 

marble.

Cold marble under the chisel,

A once pure form, solidified in its mountain peaks

Glistening in amber rays, its unique beauty showing.

We took it, carved away at its ragged edges

Taking away what made it different,

Purging the imperfections to make it

A perfect Aryan block, white and smooth.

No place for its little nooks that held the rain drops

That poured on it, no scars from the massive

Boulders that fell on it: defining its strength.

We take it.  We destroy it. We try to make it

Look like all the other blocks, once beautiful

Creations of god now a byproduct of man’s

Hatred of all not like us:  Those rocks morphed,

bending under the constant pressure

To look as clear as the one before it, if it isn’t

We criticize it, throw it aside and shatter it.

Taking these remnants of a once beautiful stone

And casting them at the other rocks,

A coercive attempt to fear them into being

Pure and acceptable marble, snow white with

Smokey curls, perfection as society deems it:

Now to be molded into whatever we see fit,

Counter tops, sculptures

Anything we can imagine in order to please us

Not thinking about what that once mountain

Rock may want.  I speak up for those

Who are silent, I knock you from your

Prodigious pedestal above.

Just because something appears stoic

Does not mean that it has no heart,

No longing to just be the beautiful

Ragged rock on the jagged peaks,

Bathing in the rain and amber rays that

Warm its veins that we try to take away;

They don’t want to change!  They are perfect

As chipped, dimpled, imperfect stones,

Those chips and dimples define them.

And allow them to stand tall on their own.

Put down that steel chisel, that harbinger

Of pain.  The only thing that will shape these stones

Is the peaceful erosion of the rain.