Antithesis is pleased to welcome a new blog contributor: Edward Tanoto.
Edward Tanoto is an Indonesian, full-time student at The University of Melbourne studying for his Bachelor of Commerce degree. He is also a freelance writer and blogs’ guest writers. Before Australia, he was a debate coach and an English teacher in Indonesia. Currently, he is an active participant for Feeding Australia, a non-profit organisation with the aim of providing affordable food to Australians. He is also collaborating with Professor Kenji Kanno from Tokyo University of Science and his team in creating a documentary on Australian refugees, and is working on an article for “Aktivis” Magazine – an Indonesian magazine published annually by PPIA (Perhimpunan Pelajar Indonesia Australia or The Indonesian Students Association of Australia).
We hope you enjoy Behind the Pen.
As a writer, I tend to question things – ‘What if the world is different?’ or ‘How can I voice the cries of the homeless?’ or ‘Why has Trump gathered so many supporters to his campaign?’ More often than not, the answer does not come easily, but requires hours of imagination, thought and research. The writing process is often mentally exhausting, frustrating, even!
Eventually you come to ask yourself, ‘What’s the point?’ After all, it is just a bunch of letters. There is no guarantee anybody is going to read it anyway.
It’s a question that every writing enthusiast may ask. I mean, put yourself in my shoes – my native language is not English. I am Indonesian and my English may not even be good to begin with! Faced with doubt, we dig deeper into our wounds, rubbing salt into them and wallowing in self-pity. What comes after? Well, you decide.
I believe many of us have doubted our writing. There is nothing wrong with questioning what you are doing, in fact, it’s a sign of critical thinking at work. Similarly though, it’s also important to acknowledge the value of your writing. No matter what you have written, know that you have crafted a piece of yourself into words. The words represent your thoughts, your beliefs, you! We become our own artist, our canvasses are paper and our colours are words. Just for this, how is writing not worth it?
‘The pen is mightier than the sword.’ It’s no mystery that people take offence to what writers say. Genghis Khan waged war with the Shah of Khwarezm, Muhammad II, after merely receiving an unfavourable reply to a trade negotiation. Your word holds power. It is one of the many weapons you are born with. Mastery of words is a common trait of charismatic leaders, successful novelists and famous gurus. Writing can function as a power tool when used correctly. It is the one asset that will remain useful even when time goes by. Why would you not wish to equip yourself with a powerful tool that will serve you for life?
‘A picture is worth a thousand words.’ This idiom, in its simplest form, shows us the richness of a single image. Similarly, I believe the reverse holds as much truth – A word is worth a thousand pictures. Think of life, or love – each word evokes different imagery in our psyches. The word life can conjure images of a fun hangout with close buddies in a café just as it can trigger thoughts of travelling the world, experiencing new memories and recalling good times. Love can mean accepting the unchangeable or even changing the unacceptable for your significant other.
Take the simplest word, I. The word consists of only a letter, and yet people relate differently to it. What constitutes an individual’s identity? What constitutes my identity? Will I define who I am based on my successes, failures, goals or even missed opportunities? How ironic, yet how beautiful, that it takes so few words to suggest so many pictures of you. Know that when you write, you are gently touching each reader’s psyche, each with its own take on what you write.
Ultimately, the exploration goes on. Psychological, emotional and personal benefits can all be found through writing. I wish I have been able to offer a glimpse of the story behind the pen, the reasons why people write. Find your motivation and write what you will. After all, it is yours to craft.