In September 2010, I returned to university to start a master’s in Interactive Digital Media. Twelve weeks later, I found myself struggling to complete a 3,000-word essay on Sergei Eisenstein and Soviet montage theory.
I managed to finish the essay a couple of hours before it was due, but I was far from overjoyed with my work. I might even go as far to say I was a little embarrassed. I was embarrassed enough not to show it to a couple of good friends who expressed genuine interest in reading it. I don’t think it was absolutely terrible, but it certainly wasn’t brilliant.
Why was I struggling?
It wasn’t the subject matter. No. I actually found the topic very engaging. That Eisenstein guy had some interesting ideas!
Perhaps it’s just that I find it difficult to write about anything? Except I don’t. Or at least I didn’t use to.
Growing up, I’ve always enjoyed writing, whether it was making up stories or expressing my opinion on something. According to my teachers in primary and secondary school, I wasn’t exactly awful at it either.
Well, after finishing secondary school, I went straight into university, to do a degree in – wait for it – mathematics. Ah, maths… What did you do to me? Don’t get me wrong, I like mathematics. I think it’s fab. But four years of studying theorems and never writing a single essay – not even one little one – did not serve my writing abilities too well.
Then, after graduating in 2006, I moved to Japan, where I lived for three-and-a-half years, working as an English language teacher.
“English language teacher?” you say, “well then you must have done loads of writing and your abilities in that regard must have improved greatly. Right?”
Not quite. For the most part, I was teaching the basics. And, although preparing worksheets on present tense verb conjugation for beginner learners can allow for very creative and rewarding work, it rarely required me to flex any major literary muscles. Even when it wasn’t the basics, it was obviously more about helping the students to improve their own writing and develop their own styles, rather than me force-feeding them my own prose.
Besides, I was employed to teach oral communication and conversation, so there was seldom any writing involved anyway.
While abroad, I did maintain correspondence with folks at home – and since returning home, I’ve tried to keep in touch with folks abroad. But I must say my communication has waned, both in quantity and quality. I find myself responding to emails containing paragraphs with single-line ones, if I respond at all. My posts on discussion boards and forums have dropped drastically in frequency and I just don’t put as much effort in when I do. I have become lazy.
So, eight years of not having to write anything substantial, coupled with almost inevitable inertia: this is why I was struggling with that essay.
This needs to change.
I have an essay in another course due in mid-January. I will have much more writing to do over the next term, in the form of assignments and exams. Most daunting of all, I have to write a 12,000-word dissertation. Soon.
I need to write a lot and I need to write well. Thus, I have started this blog. To write. About stuff.
I don’t plan on restricting myself to any particular topics, but I’m naturally more likely to write about what interests me. So, expect posts on music, film, television, pop culture in general, personal experiences, maybe some stuff about Japan… I will also try to write about what I’m studying. I might even throw up some of the stuff I submit along the way.
I will do my utmost to respond to comments, reply to emails and get more involved in online conversations. Heck, I’m going to try and get back to writing letters. After all, those three-hour exams I have to sit will involve a lot of pen-to-paper action, so I’ll have to get into the swing of that again.
The more writing I do, the better I’ll get. That’s how it usually works, yeah?
Please feel free to let me know if it’s not working!