Last week’s in-class discussion made me frustrated, but in a positive way.
As a student journalist, I think about writing every day. My view of writing has changed quite a bit since I landed on campus as a freshman, but I never thought writing could be expressed through a painting with no words or a video without captions.
And maybe that’s not writing. But it’s kind of more fun to believe that it is.
As we delved deeper into the definition of writing, I realized that any image really could be writing. “What about hieroglyphics?” I suggested in class. It gave me a massive headache thinking about how any painting could justifiably be writing.
I came into class thinking that my view of writing was already fairly broad. I listed three examples of writing the day before, and that included a screenshot of my Twitter (after all, posts are 14o character short stories!), a NYTimes video, and a Daily article I wrote this summer. Turns out, my thoughts weren’t really out of the box.
I think my most intriguing post was the NYTimes video because I defined it as writing merely because it tells a story, and that’s why writing exists. It was kind of a stretch. But think about it. How much writing went into creating that video? A lot. I know that producers poured over timelines and stories within the main story to reach the final product of a three-minute video.
Our class discussion clarified why we did the cut-up assignment a few days before. Sometimes an out-of-the-box view of polished writing can create ideas bigger and better than ever imagined. Ong claimed that writing is artificial, but I don’t think of writing that way. Some of the things I’m most proud are related to writing, and I don’t think that’s unauthentic.
So how do I define writing now? I think I’m going to define it as something that tells a story, and if I don’t believe it to be writing, all you have to do is justify it for me. I think if someone believes something is writing, all they have to do is make a case for why it is and I’ll accept it…
…within reason, of course.