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Name: Valentina Nesci
Date registered: June 3, 2011

Latest posts

  1. Writing for the Right Reasons — October 24, 2011
  2. Culture Shock — September 24, 2011
  3. The Plunge — June 27, 2011
  4. Operating Room — June 20, 2011
  5. Butterfly — June 17, 2011

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  1. Culture Shock — 1 comment

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Oct 24

Writing for the Right Reasons

There are many reasons why we choose to write: creative expression, catharsis, therapy, communication, social networking, money, fame, individuality– the reasons for writing are limitless. But regardless of what your reasons are, so as to ensure that you reach your potential as writer, it’s essential that you are writing for the right reasons.

What determines the validity of one’s motivations for writing? Well, the answer to that question really depends on you: do you believe with all your heart that by writing you can achieve the goals for which you write for? If not, your writing will be at best half-baked, and at worst misguided and, ultimately, futile. If you cannot follow through with the goals for which you write, you would be better off either changing the reasons for which you write, or not writing at all.

If you are writing for creative expression, why limit yourself to writing? There is a myriad of forms of creative expression, including music, painting, photography, film-making, and all kinds of innovation, some forms of which remain undiscovered. Writing is one of the oldest and most primitive forms of creative expression, and relatively limited in its ability to convey emotional meaning, or meaning of any kind. Perhaps you should explore all the other ways to express yourself, so as to ensure that you will find one most optimized for your individual skills and personal character.

If catharsis is your goal, writing is an exemplary means of venting all that excess negative energy, but by no means should it be used as a sole means of therapy, nor as a primary. Millions of people write to cope with emotional stress, but that doesn’t necessarily keep them from wanting to harm themselves or others, nor can it guarantee relief from depression. As a means of catharsis, writing should be supplementary to other forms of treatment. Writing is a proven tool in therapy, particularly for engaging patients socially, or to target personal issues via role-play, but it shouldn’t be relied on much more than just that– a tool. Just as with catharsis, writing is better optimized as a form of therapy when combined with other means of treatment.

In this day and age of technology and the world wide web, social networking is proving to be an increasingly important part of staying connected with, and influencing the world in a meaningful way. Writing is an important part of bringung about such influence in the world, but you would be short-changing yourself socially if you limited your ability to social network to the written word. The greatest of social titans in today’s world are not just writers, but film-makers, musicians, comedians, artists, and photographers– all bundled into a single person. Today’s social media celebrities have learned to merge every major form of creative expression into a single image, thus earning the name “Personality”. If your true motivation for writing is to network with people, and especially to network on the social of Internet personalities, don’t limit yourself to writing, when there are so many other media of self-expression at your disposal, just waiting to be used!

Money and fame go hand and hand as a motivation for writing, but there are few motivations for writing more misled than these! As Ron L. Hubbard, founder of the pseudoscientific religion Scientology noted, “Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wanted to make a million dollars, the best way to do it would be start his own religion.” Ron L. Hubbard did just that, and made several millions as a result, as well as achieving worldwide fame and notoriety. So, if I may be so bold, I recommend that  those of you seeking to get money or fame through writing take a leaf out of Hubbard’s book. At the very least, you are more likely to acquire money and fame through Hollywood than through writing.

Writing to assert one’s individuality is a tricky one, as the validity of such a motivation is in itself individualistic (and thus subjective) in nature. But, if I might draw upon my own personal experience, writing for individuality is imbalanced and overly existentialistic, and might lead to nihilism, depression, and self-loathing if left unchecked. Writing is intended as a form of communication through expression, and anyone who writes for the sole purpose of self-assertion might eventually realize this is not enough, as it is the literary equivalent of talking to yourself.

Communication is probably one of the purest motivations for writing, and probably one of the only reasons which, in my opinion, can be considered an inherently sufficient impetus for writing. After all, writing was designed from the very beginning to facilitate communication. If this is your primary reason for writing, you might as well have been a born writer!

When it comes down to it, the best of writers don’t write for any one reason, and often choose one primary impetus which is complimented by several supplementary motivations. By writing for multiple reasons, you can help ensure that your writing is balanced and your motivations strong, and each additional reason for writing will only further enhance your ability to write creatively, powerfully, and effectively.

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Sep 24

Culture Shock

The most remarkable thing I remember about coming to Canada was the Wal-Mart. I’d only been to a Wal-Mart once before then, when my dad drove us in our tiny second-hand Suzuki to a giant outlet mall about two hours away from where we lived. In a continent where an hour’s drive could bring you to a different country entirely, this was a Pretty Big Deal.

I had marveled at the size of the place, that first time, but even that particular retail location seemed to retain some of the austere character of the soil upon which it was located. For one, it lacked the haphazard nature of the big box stores that has become synonymous with American hyper-consumerism. For another, it was populated with the solemn and the well-behaved and the upper-middle-class who had come to wonder at this latest cultural import from across the Atlantic.

This was years ago, in Germany – a charmingly old-fashioned country that prided itself on workmanship and luxury, a country where even tourist trinkets were well-made and where the concept of cheap disposable goods had not yet taken over.

The first time we stepped into a Canadian Wal-Mart, the first thing I saw was a digital watch for a cartoon series I was really into at the time. It had been made out of cheap rubber, and came with five plastic faceplates featuring different characters from the TV show that could be switched out. The price, more than anything else, remains in my mind: $11.95.

At the exchange rate at the time, the watch translated to about $15 Deutsche Mark…and $15 for a watch with my favorite cartoon characters seemed like an awfully good bargain.

(Imagine my surprise when I discovered dollar stores.)

Photographer: Rich Schieren

Despite their fervent belief that spending money on anything other than the absolute necessities was nothing less than sacrilege, my parents had decided a few years previously that I should be given an allowance in order to be able to properly socialize with the locals. These had a propensity to shun me already, and really did not need further encouragement. I received $5 every week and, apart from the occasional moment of weakness that overwhelmed me when I walked past the sweet’s shop after school, I dutifully squirreled this money away like the good little first generation immigrant I was.

This was different, though. I’d always wanted a watch. Despite the cartoon characters that adorned this particular specimen, a watch of my own seemed charmingly grown-up…exactly the thing a precocious 11-year-old with a surplus of attitude and a deficit of affection needed to prove to the world that she ought to be taken seriously, dammit.

My parents made me sternly promise that I wouldn’t lose any of the faceplates (a promise I broke almost as soon as we stepped out of the store) and that I wouldn’t waste my money on anything so frivolous again anytime soon.

So I bought it. And it didn’t matter that the plastic casing the watch came in crinkled dangerously in my hand, or that manufacturing defects prevented all but two of the faceplates from actually switching out. This watch, my watch, seemed like it was an omen of what Canada was to bring me: freedom, as cliché as that may sound. Freedom to explore, and to grow, and to live.

I have no idea where that watch is, now. I doubt it lasted beyond my first year in Canada. I soon became far more preoccupied with the struggles of living in an English speaking country without actually, well, speaking English all that well. In accordance with my never-ending desire to prove worth to an imaginary panel of judges, I had also decided to bring myself up to speed in another language, my fourth language. This language, I’d decided—a language that my classmates had studied since kindergarten, a language that I’d only seen parodied on TV—would be the one je-ne-sais-quoi I needed to be accepted here. I started checking out French children’s books from the library, and thought no more about half-broken symbols of my childhood.

That year, and the two years following, were marked by frustration and ostracism and classmates that didn’t like me any better than my classmates in Germany had. Eventually, pride and spite and hurt pushed me to a bench at the far end of the schoolyard, protected from the petty politics of grade-schoolers by a book as big as I was.

It wasn’t until grade nine that I really settled into my own, with appropriately nerdy friends and appropriately nerdy classes and something resembling an identity of my own. By then, I was so used to the timbre of life in Canada that none of it—the roadside diners, the franchised coffee shops, the oversized malls, the frigid winters—surprised me anymore.

I took my vow of citizenship the following year, a whole—or is it a mere?—five years after setting foot on Canadian soil, and it felt more like a formality than anything. I’d thought of myself as Canadian for years already; this piece of paper seemed little more than a representation of the rights I already knew were mine. I guess in the end, that’s what every immigrant family wants for their children.

By that time, I’d already lost the recollection of the wonder I felt upon realizing that the life I’d known in Germany was as representative of the wider world as I was of your average Chinese girl. The memories of the cold politeness of my classmates were fading away, to be replaced by a stubborn sense of certainty that this diplomat town ruling over a vast mélange of multiculturalism is where I was meant to be.

I can’t begin to enumerate the naiveties of that particular point of view. I just remember restlessly sitting in the lobby of the government building after the swearing-in ceremony, waiting for dad to bring the car around so my mom and my sister wouldn’t have to walk in the rain. My mom was going to take the rest of the day off, but I was dropped off at a bus terminal so I could make my way back to school for afternoon classes. I’d never lost the streak of academic competitiveness I first developed in grade 6 as a coping mechanism, and the thought of missing an afternoon of school simply because I’d changed national allegiances seemed ridiculous. Just as the trinket that marked my passage into Canada eventually found its way to the great toy chest in the sky, it was time to put my Chinese past into a drawer for safekeeping, and move on.

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Jun 27

The Plunge

Even the coroner grew sick
Reading “Hesitation” tattooed on both his wrists
Because he knew one day
He’d successfully take his life being happy
Ranting this as he fell to the water
With a smile of clarity
Not thinking about his mother
A death sad to all but not to him
Not being reborn for he has sinned
He never wanted to live forever
His doped up brain made him think he was clever
And I wonder if at that very moment before he hit the water
He remembered instantly sober
“Oh my god… my daugh-“

Photographer: Valentina Nesci

SPLASH

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Jun 20

Operating Room

Blood drips like an unattended faucet
Blue and green towels with blotchy dark red
Booty covered shoe prints along the floor
Heavy metal playing inside the closed doors

“If this patient weren’t so fat”
The surgeon yells
“This wouldn’t be such hell”
Slip and fall and break it all
Age wasn’t a factor when calcium was lacked
Next will be her recovery heart attack

I should have brought mints to hide beneath my mask
Cauterized skin burns in my mouth
A taste that’s hard to eliminate
Newcomers could gag or strangulate
It’s more potent than television can show
Only the true hospital workers know
For now I’ll pinch my mask a little harder

Hammering the new replacement hip in
Crime scene splatter hits the face shields
Blood runs down my machine like rain on a window
Bone pieces clog the suction
Who knew there was so much destruction
Electric saw cuts away the femoral head
Smoke arises
Nose hairs curl once again
Tickling my nose but I can’t touch it
There’s blood on my gloves from touching my machine
Only my shoulder can end this misery

The surgeon stooped and looked at the scrub tech
Face pushed forward like he was looking at his lover
It was the signal to peel away the face shield cover
Like new again the surgeon can see
More hammering coming

CRACK!

“SHIT” is never a good thing to hear
Such brittle bone it broke again
Our hearts jump in fear
Now the femur is worse than before
I have no idea what’s in store
Stomach grumbling as I look at the clock in pain
Food is far away again

A new prosthesis, plate and wires
Four hours later I’m so )(#*ing tired
Slipping on the goo below
My machine maneuvers with a pink glow
Final x ray images are saved
I back out and give the surgeons a wave
Print their films and call it a day

And when it’s all said and done
I look at the slowly waking patient
Seeing the stitches holding on for dear life
To know and hear all the things that were said
That’s kept between the room and only our heads
You’ll never know what we think of you
But ignorance is bliss

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Jun 17

Butterfly

My emotions are floating, like a butterfly
Beautiful but sharp and unpredictable
When will they finally land and be at peace
Relaxing and showing my wings
To the one person that sees me as pretty
Delicate to touch
Don’t squeeze me too tightly
You cannot catch me
I’ll fly to you

I cannot remember how many times
I’ve flown the other way
Hiding the things I should have said
Some mistakes are simply easy to repeat

This time is different
I flew to you

Emptying my locked up soul
Treasure and skulls
Accepting me as a whole
It’s my heart you stole
And I’ll play my role
In our happiness

I flutter around endlessly
Emotions I’ve never felt
Pushing and pulling me
Like a drug I cannot sober up from
Patience
I tell myself this is how I’m supposed to feel
This is how a butterfly flows through the wind of life

It’s the one thing I understand fully
Yet lack the tools to calm it down
They’ve never been made
My brain is reforming
My body is warming
I anticipate what’s forth coming
Over the hill and around the trees
The path is hard to see

I don’t want to know what’s next
Keep making me feel my best
Bring out the angels and demons
They’ve been locked up screaming
An emotionally fight I’m going to win
Fluttering day by day in the wind
You make me feel like a butterfly.

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Jun 10

Present

Like a present on Christmas

Wrapped up with a nice pretty bow

I didn’t know what to expect

I just saw the beauty of the wrapping paper

Little by little I started to unwrap it

Each second bringing a bigger smile to my face

There goes the bow, now the tape

It’s intense, “what is it? What’s inside”

The thrill of getting to know you

The patience it takes not to rip the paper

There’s no rush, I’ll take my time

The present is in my hands and for now it’s mine

Finally, the paper is gone and I can see what was inside

Tears fall from my eyes as I set it down

Because when you receive something so beautiful in life

Which you never even knew existed

All you can do is wonder

Why you’d let even one day be missed

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Jun 08

Saw Some Pictures Today

Running through an old Eastman color album
I came across some moments captured in time

Magpie sitting on a branch picking food
Innocent sparrow looking around

Flowing river accepting everything that comes its way
Old banyan quietly bearing the Indian summer sun

And now I wonder, why do people always cry?
Sometimes everything is not enough for us.

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Jun 05

Bonds

Call me

Write me

Your words always enlighten me

It frightens me to see

We aren’t using all our possibilities

To be the brothers

Close like when we used to hold our mother

But we stutter and find

What crosses our minds

Is not each other

And I don’t want to smother you

But I love you

I want my word to feed you

You’re my hip hop music

I always want to listen to it

It puts me at peace

And that’s just the very least

It settles my beast

Makes him cease to exist

I too have a long list

Of what I need to accomplish

But you’re at the top

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