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“It is a myth that writer’s write what they know. We write what it is that we need to know. What keeps me writing at my desk, hour after hour, year after year is that I do not know something, and that I must write in order to find my way to an understanding.”[1]

Notes for Discussion:

Coming to writing, contemplating the very concept of writing, what it is, what it expresses, what it means – is difficult.

Writing is, as Slatterly states, a vehicle or medium that guides, reveals, and educates.

There is something that I do not know, or, there is something that my audience/reader does not know and writing is the medium through which this something will be known.

Reading as a way of knowing, or rather, as a way of experiencing language so that it can be known.

The concept of expansion, engaging in an ongoing conversation within multiple perspectives – an ever evolving social and individual consciousness that shapes just who we are and how we experience the world.

Every note on a page, every essay, every idea scratched into the margins of books and notebooks, is an act of translation – taking an idea or concept and expressing it to others through language. Regardless of your discipline or focus of study/interest, each of you has an idea, a vision that could transform the way we as a culture and as individuals experience reality. Considering art, technology, marketing, business, economics – the ideas and innovations that drive our world mean nothing unless they can be communicated effectively. They mean even less if they cannot be remembered.

What is our purpose in writing?

Beyond the obvious – it will not make you money; the last thing you should strive to be in this world is a writer if money in any way enters your thoughts on a daily or even monthly basis.

I peddled words and sold terrible poems on the streets of Boulder to make rent one month. I paid in dimes and ones, two days late.

You can and will be creative, yes. But what’s more…

Your purpose in writing? To be remembered.

To live is to move, to touch and to then be touched. We live to be involved. All of our sense turned outward towards one another. We consume each other’s stories, build and define our lives through our forged relationships. Without you, there is no ‘I.’

This is difficult to accept, to understand – how connected we are through our many languages. How much we need one another to make sense of our own thoughts and words, our own memories.

When we read, we interpret; we associate and then, we remember.

To be remembered: isn’t this it’s own eternity? The ability to continue to touch, to move, to impact the lives of others through the power of language? It extends beyond time and beyond space. It folds and tresspasses, being places that it shouldn’t.

Regardless of their physical reality, the words of a writer continue to sing, continue to resonate through the pages of our culture.

And that is the art, the power of literature and of language: to communicate across the boundaries of culture, discipline, and language – composing a multi-dimensional space through which you can engage others creatively, intellectually.

Somehow, you must learn to communicate the problem in such a way that you write yourself to the solution; you must write the story in such a way that  you compose both its past and its future. And to then describe the trajectory of your realization to others in such a way so that they too can share in your experience.

How you read and analyze the words and “problems,” the questions of our culture and our bodies masked and exposed in our own experiences? And how you will navigate and write your way to the answer?


[1] Slattery, Dennis P. The Wounded Body: Remembering the Markings of Flesh, pp. 1.

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