Writing comes in many different shapes and forms, but I didn’t quite grasp how expansive these mediums were until our gallery exercise. The question of how exactly to define writing is nearly impossible. On one hand, there are the “obvious” forms of writing that take shape as books, articles, academic essays – forms of writing that clear and explicit purposes. These purposes range from telling stories to organizing ideas to galvanizing change. Yet many other forms of writing aim to achieve the same goals in a range of ways.
For example, the piece of art posted in our gallery that depicts a hand made up of various words and phrases is certainly telling a story and conveying ideas – even if it is not spelled out for the audience in the same manner as a short story. In this way, writing can take many forms that are indirectly aiming at touching an audience. Writing is incredibly personal – which is why I have such an affinity for studying and practicing the craft. Writing has the ability to affect change and shift thought through both a fleshed out argument as well as a single word. Yet writing has pragmatic purposes as well – as we saw in our gallery through the lists and calendars. In this way writing is a means through which we can organize the chaotic 60,000 thoughts we have in a given day.
One topic of discussion I found incredibly thought provoking was the part of class in which we asked if spoken word could be considered writing. Most agreed that the words spoken in a telephone conversation could not be considered writing, while an oral speech that had previously been written down could be considered writing. I thought about this conversation while reading Ong’s piece in which he argued that writing detracting from our traditions of Oral storytelling. I personally disagree. I think writing captures the stories that shape people’s lives. It creates a mechanism through which these ideas and experiences can be shared and cherished. The books I read growing up shaped me as a human being, and I would not have had these formative experiences without the practice of writing.