Getting old in Oz: The meaningless years
Building blocks, library shelves & soul

No magic in writing; it's the spirit within


PORT MORESBY - The act of writing is daring and magical as it summons inner courage, latent creativity and sparkling intelligence to form a universe of words.

It is a bold act to put words on a blank page, and then to share them.

It is unnerving especially for first-time writers due to the nagging questions that well up inside the mind.

Questions about finding the right ideas, overcoming the nasty tricks of complex grammar, nailing down the right adjectives and understanding what to do with commas, colons and semicolons bless their heart.

And the rest that must blend together to produce writing that is intelligible, magnetic and satisfying.

It is these and many other questions that can paralyse writers who defer and delay and fail to give wings to their ideas.

Then there is the need to silence the nagging voices inside writers’ minds about the traps and risks of writing.

To begin, to put pen to paper, to take the plunge, to make the first move is crucial. Goethe said, “Whatever you want to do, do it now, for boldness has magic and power in it.”

Reading is also a smart and smooth vehicle to encourage writing by feeding the inner muse and refreshing the creative chambers of the mind with the currency of ideas.

We can go back thousands of years to relish choice gems of ancient wisdom or derive the same pleasure from the present: a sparkling diamond from Virgil; a striking quote from Aristotle; a jarring phrase from Charles Dickens; a newly minted metaphor lifted from the cover of the New York Times; a snippet or two from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter.

These words and insights from our betters will widen perspective, give inspiration and deepen our reservoir of accumulated knowledge that will help us write like a dream.

The literary fare we ingest is absorbed into the subterranean interstices of our subconscious waiting to later resurface as twinkling stars and blazing meteors decanted on to the blank page.

And so we become imaginative creators, writing deliberately or hastily from a palette of just 26 letters to generate words and sentences and ideas which are our own.

And then we have what? An essay, a chapter, a poem, a ridiculous anecdote, perhaps the heft of an entire book.

All of this brought together by our mind on the page.

“There’s something about the physical, muscular, tactile act of holding a pen and transferring thoughts to paper,” Chet Scerra remarked on someone else’s writing in 2015.

“It somehow captures the mental transaction…solidifies it, gives it better scaffolding, better structure, and thoughts solidify as ideas are penned on paper.

“From here, one can look at it again and again…each time redigesting, recalibrating.”

To me there is a magnificent analogy. As God created the chaotic and formless earth and the universe by his words, so writers create a universe by the diligent act of writing.

Writing that can decolonise the mind, create self-belief, bestow self-esteem and “shatter the old shibboleth that Niuginians can only be evoked as objects, but that they can’t write,” as Sir Rabbie Namaliu said long before he was knighted in praising the influence of scholar, writer and mentor Ulli Beier.

To lose the fear of writing is to rise and triumph against colossal odds including self-doubt and lowly social status and even poor teaching.

To master the art of writing and to have writing published that it might be read is a massive victory for the writer.

We writers can soar into the literary universe, perhaps to even taste the rare oxygen of fame and certainly bask in the sunlit uplands of knowing that we can create something of rare and lasting value.


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