The Scribe’s Paradox

crop calligrapher with modern calligraphy brush pen

As thoughts swirl ceaselessly round in my head during restless midnight hours, I recognize that there exists a paradox as old as the art of storytelling itself. The act of writing is as much a solitary waltz as it is a grand ball. It’s a playful dalliance between the self and the many, inviting us to step closer to the mirror and peer into our reflections, even as we extend a hand to invite others to join in.

For most, the act of writing is, at its core, a deeply personal endeavor. It’s an inward-looking journey, a chance to commune with the deepest, most hidden parts of ourselves. Writing well often requires having an intimate dialogue with our innermost selves. The words we pen are reflections of fragments pulled from our souls.We write to discover, to explore, and to better understand both ourselves and others, and to bring to life the stories that reside in the shadowy corners of our minds.

Yet, as we proceed with what may be considered a solitary task, we must also be acutely aware of the eyes that watch us. These are the readers who step into the ballroom of our narratives and join us in the waltz of our ideas, thoughts, and opinions. Writing is a gift that we offer to others, a bridge that connects us to the world. For introverts like myself, writing is the best way to invite others into my world.Through my articles, essays, and prose poems, I do my best to offer others a glimpse into my soul. I don’t limit myself to a particular niche or special interest, sharing all the wonders and mysteries I’ve discovered in my thirty-odd years wandering this globe.

I’ve read a lot recently about the playful nature of writing, and how the social aspect of the written word comes into play. This is when writing becomes a game of hide and seek that we play with our readers. We can tease them with words, luring them with emotionally charged narratives that resonate with universal truths that reside in all of us. I’ve always preferred to direct, sprinkling in dry humor as necessary, but never attempting to fool or deceive my readers. 

But, this doesn’t mean writing must all be work, either. Writers must play with language, structure, and form to invitereaders to discover new angles of attack and patterns of thinking. Even when we’re writing fiction, we must create worlds that are as real as they are imaginary. Our characters must live and breathe on the page and the stories must be relatable, captivating, and thought-provoking.

As we read our words back to ourselves, either aloud or silently, we find the lines between the self and the collective other blur, at which point the boundaries between the writer and reader dissolve.We’re never just writing for ourselves, even if that was the intention; necessarily, our written words are for others, as well, since we are writing in a shared language. That is, unless you want to write in a cipher or made-up language all your own. 

I’ve long thought of my words as a conduit, using shared symbols as a medium through which we can connect to the collective consciousness. At the heart of each piece that we write, we must find a way to tap into common visions, dreams, hopes, and fears. Even since I began writing my own fiction in elementary school, I’d enjoy glimpses of how words have the power to touch others, to resonate, to even inspire to write their own stories.

The blank page is as universal for a writer as it is for a non-writer. Each day we start with that same material, a blank canvas. Writers just use our words as our tool, while others may use brushes, others may use hammers, and others still a host of other implements to go about their work. Even when we don’t realize it, even our body language shares more than we consciously realize. The work we complete, as much as what we leave incomplete, is its own story, even if it’s never written down as such.

Whether or not we are writers, we are never just communicating with ourselves. Even with the smallest interactions, we leave our mark on the world. The next time you think of writing as a purely solitary act, remember that even the most solitary acts can have much further reaching consequences. Every piece of fruit you buy at the store, every pizza you order, each book you purchase from Amazon; there are so many hands involved in the narrative of each of those things that we never fully appreciate.

Thus is the raw material of the writer, mapping these hidden connections in every day things that others may not even realize they were missing. Non-writers are perhaps even more influential in writing than the actual writer’s work, as without the rest of us, there would be no story to tell. Even in the solitary act of writing, we are necessarily acting on the ripple effects of a million other hands in our life story.  

Lately, I’ve been thinking more about how many little incremental actions affect every aspect of our lives. It’s a metaphysical process that I’m now making a more conscious choice to include in my writing.Most of the time I think I’m just writing for myself, helping myself to organize my thoughts in a more meaningful and concrete way. But, I’m actually paying forward a whole galaxy of ideas, concepts, and actions that brought us to the here and now. 

The scribe’s paradox of being both introverted and social through the written word is one that I haven’t fully appreciated until very recently. Even if you’re not actively a writer, remember that every word you say, every little action you take, and everything you do is writing both your own story and that of everyone else you meet.

~ Amelia <3

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.

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