Sunday, September 7, 2008

Am I Boring?

This weekend I attended 'Guwanyi': National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Writers' Festival. It was held at the New South Wales Writers' Centre on a very rainy Saturday. The Writers' Centre is a lovely old building inside Rozelle Hospital grounds; and the perfect location for such a festival.

I went with another non-indigenous friend and we agreed that it was an insightful experience to listen to so many writers of indigenous background talk about their experiences, both as people and as writers; and to do so with a certain level of objectivity, not playing the part of the bitter victim, a box I believe Aboriginal people often find themselves in. So many of the writers had very moving, and sometimes tragic, personal and familial histories.

Many writers that I speak to write about themselves. Maybe not directly, but definitely on some kind of subconscious level they write about how they experience the world. At the moment I find it very difficult to do this. I often write about sadness, but it is not very often my own.

I realised yesterday that I have often felt like my own experiences and the way I think about the world are not interesting enough to write about. I am middle class and white. I had a lovely childhood and still have a loving family. I have already received a good education and am in a position to pursue further study. I am in no way complaining about any of these things, quite the opposite: I am very thankful for them.

My point is that I have never felt like I can write about myself because my life does not really provide any interesting material. And so I write other people's stories.

Of course, just because I don't write about myself does not mean I don't write for myself. And, in the end, I guess people that have had incredible experiences and go on to write about them are doing the same: writing for themselves.

I'm not sure what my overall point is here, exactly. I guess I'm interested to find out what motivates other people to create. Is it an exploration or an exorcisim of sorts?

A new project tomorrow! And we will put the responses to the last up sometime this week. Apologies for the disorganisation this month.

Image by soartsyithurts.

PS. I am aware of the irony inherent in me writing a post all about how I don't write about myself!


  1. Oh this is so nice! I think creating for me is an exploration.

    And now that you write about it, I think that like you most of what I create is about, based upon, or inspired about other peoples stories? Hmmm, interesting!

  2. I have to admit, I create for myself, but more often than not I do have someone in mind that I would like to think is impressed with my work.

    Besides that, this topic reminds me of my first 'writing for animation' class. Very first class we were told to pair up. After I had done that with someone I had never meet before, we were told to tell the person 'the most difficult time of our lives.' It was a bit of a challenge opening up to a stranger like that, but I did my best. The thing was after we both told our stories, we merged back into the whole class and were then told we had to repeat the same story again. So scary again, but multiplied by 100000000000!

    The strange thing was, that class was the best one that year. Probably because of this exercise, all us students of that class bonded so quickly. The person I first told my story to became a really close friend for several years until life drifted us apart.

    Oh, and there was a real story-telling point to the exercise. Mainly, it is easy to discount our own stories, because we see them part of... well... life. It's amazing how pretty much everyone has a dozen stories to tell. It's part of learning not to discount you own experiences, no matter how hum-drum they seem to you, the other part is the reinforcement that people find other people interesting, not just a plot...

  3. Oh. hi Sophie! I meant to email you back last night, but got distracted. Glad to here you are doing ok. And so far - I haven't 'known' you very long, but I don't think you are boring.

    I think I create because it's a bit of a compulsion - when I don't do it my head gets all jumbled up with something and I can't sort out my thinking, so in a way for me it's a way of being mindful of what I am thinking and dealing with depression. Also I just love the way certain colours and textures look while I am working with them, and the thoughts sparked by interacting with different materials... I also believe that using our worldy gifts glorifies God - I think I need to think about this more, actually!

    Anyway - I don't think having a lovely childhood means you have nothing interesting to write about yourself- I love to hear other peoples stories of joy and happy memories. For me, it helps me focus on the positive too, when depressed it's so easy to get stuck thinking about all the negative things that happened and get trapped thinking my life was just one big horrible experience, which isn't true. So - bring on the joy and loveliness, I say!