I must be a really confused bum at times. Or may be frequently. But I think writing has become a sort of an addiction with me- not that I like it or want to do it! I just do it!!! That sounds quite ridiculous I am sure- what am I to gain by writing when it is not really leading to any career goals being met, since I am not a university based academic or researcher?
Then it occurred to me that writing gives me clarity- in many ways. I recently wrote an article called Power to Label, for a conference, which is due in Feb 2015- since we had to send in our writing early, I did. In fact one of the organizers wrote to me personally to write and I did. I am not so hoity toity that if I have difference of opinions with people I can never mend the fences. That is real small mindedness and refusal to enlarge your perspective. Anyhow, once I wrote the paper – I felt that it was a not a very long piece and perhaps just right for a conference. After writing I sent it to a senior academic who I identify as a friend and a mentor. He approved of the writing and said it was very good for a presentation (in other words it need not have been?!). I sent the paper onward towards submission.
Suddenly then I realized that in a short space of a few thousand words, possibly I had said a lot of things in a very clear and concise manner. I do not know how the clarity came. Or may be I have always carried it inside and now I am also learning to articulate it. The gentleman whose call to write the piece I had responded to called it a formidable piece! So I asked him why he said so. This is what he responded saying,
When I read your paper I was struck by the force of your argument and what seemed to me like the stubborn tenacity with which you would have had to pursue it for years to come to that clarity. I used the word formidable to suggest that the effort behind it was simply beyond my comprehension in terms of difficulty, especially when I think of the fact that you were struggling with the disturbance produced by your distress on the process of thought. It also seemed to me that it proposed the alternate way of recovery that seemed (to a lay person, me) like a viable answer to the kind of treatment proposed by the pharma-medico-rational mainstream, and that seemed again like a formidable achievement.
So that brings me to the thought about the next article whose abstract I wrote- it was about music, education and religion and this one I sent to two people to read and offer comments. One is a young professor of History and another a retired one in Linguistics. The latter is also one who I identify as seniors who are like mentors. He told me that it was an extremely well written piece and may be I would want to consider putting it in a leading journal in education. I did not even know about the journal till then- but of course the idea hit the target. So for now I have sent the abstract and then I had written this other article about using the arts (all of them) towards self healing in mental illnesses. I cannot use it anywhere, because the original will be translated into Marathi- but I cannot afford to lose the original and the prospect of reaching it to hundreds of people across the country. So I varied it a bit, dropped the references, made the language more flowing and sent it to a newspaper.
Of course I am not going to count the short story that I sent to a journal in medical humanities, because though it came from experience, it does not qualify as research writing for me. It is an outcome of wanting to write perhaps and say things in simpler formats! (talking of achieving clarity, am sure this is one of those devices).
And just when I was thinking of starting the next article – I thought I would write this blog post. So like it or not, I am writing next an article about the therapeutic potential of music for a journal of doctors and another in medical humanities about how positivism was the basis of psychiatry- I mean the history of psychiatry and how it got transformed from a behaviouristic to a medical paradigm.
Did I not say this year that I would not be doing any journal writings? Am I in my right mind?! What a cry baby I am! Or may be the two headed cat here. But yes, here is one article that I also wanted to save via this article.