Recently, I had occasion to reinhabit some of my previous ‘worlds’, through chatting to different people at an event. Ones that currently feel very distant from life just now, but I realised I remembered them well enough when I got talking.
Linguistics world. My year learning about nationalism. My almost-decade of full-time officer worker life. I discovered I could still talk some of the talk. I remembered what I loved. What I struggled with. I connected with others in those conversations, that remembering.
It brought me to thinking that those previous selves developed writing personas for those times. Using language to write about language. Stretching my -isms in my best social sciences parlance. Emails that were about being tactful, being fair, being impartial, being enthusiastic about someone else stretching their wings.
So many forms of writing even before then. Essays. Letters. Diaries. Poems. Even a play, one time. These days, I have a PhD in writing food shopping lists, don’t forget lists, and yet more trytogetallthisdone lists. Sometimes with bullet points.
At one point, applying to do a course to teach English to speakers of other languages (another former life), I had to write an essay on ‘My experiences of language learning’. And in writing it, I suddenly discovered that there were lots of ways in which I had been experiencing language- and culture-learning, even from early on.
It was a bit of a surprise. And a bit of a confirmation as to why I was doing what I was doing. Starting to think about all those types of writing I’ve done over the years – and the others I do now (including Facebooking and blogging) – I’ve had a similar experience.
I come to realise that I am a writer, in that I am a confirmedly writing-type person. Good or bad, interesting or merely necessary, writing is what I do, time after time.
What does it feel like to realise this? To misquote Dorothy L. Sayers into another context: ‘What do all the words come to in the end but this? I love this. I am at rest with this. I have come home.’