My son has been given a school project to complete; he has to write an essay about ‘Aliens in the backyard’, as part of his creative writing course.
He spends an hour writing out a draft and wants to read it out to me. What hits me is that his eyes are shimmering with the excitement of what he has written. He stands up for effect. He reads out his essay, about a grotesque looking alien (boys will be boys), with multiple eyes, ears and long hands, whose battery gets charged by jumping up and down on a bouncing trampoline that’s supposedly in our backyard. Anyone jumping on it automatically charges the alien’s battery, so my son does his bit. The story has elements of adventure, love, kindness and mystery. He finishes reading and looks up at me with glittering eyes and an expectant smile.
I tell him that his essay is very well written and hug him. He is very happy and runs away to make his final draft. I remain seated, mulling over his essay.
My son’s excitement was palpable because he re-lived the story he had written, as he read it out to me. I hope, that there’s a writer lurking in him.
Then I ask myself, does my writing give me such unadulterated joy? Do I enjoy what I have created. Yes, most times yes, but the glee that I saw in my son’s face, I don’t see in mine. Is it because we are older and can’t think like kids or let do we allow ourselves only limited leeway for enjoyment, because of deadlines and other commitments?
I still remember some of the essays I wrote in high school and in university. They still make me smile. I have not had the heart to throw some of them – handwriting that slants right on yellowed paper, with words and thoughts from another time. I get brief flashes of the person I was, and realize how I have evolved – both as a person, and in my writing.
Writing is an extension of our thoughts, captured and chiseled into manageable sentences. Once the sentences have been composed, the words don’t meander off the page, like our thoughts do. That’s the beauty of writing. It helps refine our thoughts and articulate them in well-defined forms, giving us joy for years afterward.