Được tạo bởi Blogger.

Thứ Sáu, 3 tháng 12, 2010

Writing is a painful form of labour. We don’t have as many writers as, say, teachers, not because fewer people are blessed with the gift of writing, but fewer can endure the pain of writing, or at least I believe so. Writing, basically, means spreading yourself out on the surface of a sheet of paper, let someone else read it, even if that someone is you yourself, and get ready to face rejection. That’s the point. You’ll never know how your writing is perceived, whether people will like it, hate it, remember it, forget it, or read it at all. That’s similar to the anxiety when you’ve done your best, but never know if you’ll catch attention of the person you like. Imagine having that anxiety everyday for the rest of your life!

That’s why the pain was so real after I read the edited version of my article. I wrote it, edited it as requested, and was quite satisfied with my own writing. I looked at the screen and thought to myself: “Oh, this is like Im cut into pieces and rearranged by someone else. That’s a messy representation of me. That’s not me, the article no longer mine. And I don’t like it.” Of course I protested and asked him, my uncle, to use my edited version instead of his, but he refused.

We chatted for about an hour. His reasons were: “One. We write to entertain, not to educate.” I replied I don’t wish to educate anyone, I just hope to leave people, if not thinking, maybe feeling a little bit unsettled after they finish reading. I hate shallow writings myself, so if there is something I’d love to avoid, it is articles readers forget the moment they put down the paper. “Two. Avoid controversial topics and making judgments.” For the past four years, my life revolves around practicing critical thinking, exploring and arguing with theorists, professors and myself. And now he asked me to get rid of this hard-earned habit.

More than once, I've listened to my uncle and other journalist friends of mine complaining about their works cut and changed by editors. They are frustrated, they are upset, they are mad and annoyed. No wonder. They are the most industrious people I know, they put sweats and tears into their works. The conflict between writers and editors is eternal. They hate each other, but need each other at the same time. Sometimes my friend says he’s grown indifferent to unjust and poorly-informed changes the editor makes to his articles, just so a few days later, he exploded into another storm of anger. Somehow they will never get used to it. So, being a freelancer himself, who in fact has been rejected by the bureauracial journalism, my uncle must understand, more than anyone else, how I felt when he insisted on editing my article the way he wanted it.
In our conversation as between writer and editor, not uncle and niece, he must have seen himself 20, or 30 years ago in me, struggling, protesting, persuading an authoritarian figure to keep the original work that contains my most authentic self. But tenderly, much more tenderly than a professional editor would, he dismissed all my points. Instead, there he went.
- You must not think of yourself when you write for the public.
- You must be able to sell your writings, that matters more
- When you have become an accomplished writer, people will read whatever you write. Wait until then.

Those lessons he has learnt in a hard way, most of the time by failing to get people buy what he has to sell, and he was telling me, probably still fully aware that I wouldn’t take his advice to heart.

He has changed himself. The man who ingrained his values so deeply on my personality. He used to tell me: “Don’t blindly follow a conventional path. Don’t let others make you do what they want you to do. Break free. Live the way you please. Fly like an eagle.” Throughout my teenage years, we never talked much, but the message was conveyed and accepted. He who believes in me more than I believe in myself. 10 years or so later, before I left for Canada, he told me: “Bend when you need to. Don’t be too proud.” I wasn’t surprised, but I felt something lost.

Now, he tells me: “Serve the mass. After you have climbed to the top, you can dictate them.” He’s been having this dream, ever since I was about 10, that we would someday become a pair, he the photographer and I the writer. When my first poet was published, in grade 6, he started talking about our own paper. Now the dream seems close.

He is not the kind of a giant supporter that lifts me on his shoulders. If there's one thing he makes sure he'll never do, it is to lift me up. He watches me from a distance and in silence, rarely offers a hand when Im down. We usually don’t talk for months, then he drops a random comment on my facebook, just random enough for me to realize that he’s always read all my updates. He is not prone to expressing affection, even though he is the only adult in my family who hugs me and kisses me on the check. Actually, he is master at making me feel bad about myself, after a lecture about how much disappointment I give him. 

I can get used to his being a weary and cautious man instead of a proud and passionate freelancer I used to know. I can deal with a new relationship of an editor and a writer, even an employer and an employee between us. But one thing remains particularly disturbing to me. “Serve the mass. After you have climbed to the top, you can dictate them.” Doesn’t that sound very much similar to the ideology of the communist regime you detest, uncle?

0 nhận xét:

Đăng nhận xét