Interestingly, Gabriel García Márquez, author of One Hundred Years of Solitude and Nobel Prize for Literature, said that: “The writer’s craft is perhaps the only one that becomes more difficult the more it is practiced.” I share this opinion of Gabo because that is how I have experienced it.
Generally, reading leads to writing. Someone said that “we write to give back something we have read”. Jean-Paul Sartre, for example, at the age of 58, published The Words, an autobiographical book divided into two chapters: “Reading” and “Writing”. In this work, conceived in a narrative discourse, he states that his devotion to books began in his childhood. To the child Sartre — using a metaphor from the Venezuelan writer Francisco Rivera — the world is presented in the form of a book. “I began my life as I will undoubtedly end it: in the midst of books,” said Sartre, who discovers that the words crouched on the pages of those big objects, which inhabited the shelves of his grandfather’s library, contain a mystery that must be unraveled.
Like anyone who wants to be a writer, the young Sartre began to borrow words from books, to copy or imitate the authors who most interested him. This is how we all start to write, imitating, but once we get involved with writing, with the act of writing and rewriting, we intend to forge our own language, our way of writing, in which, inevitably, they will always be notice the influences, the debts, the loans that we make consciously and unconsciously.
My academic studies oriented me towards research and art criticism. I remember that my first critical text, published in a printed medium in Caracas, was about an exhibition about the artist Armando Reverón, on the occasion of the centenary of his birth. From there I was posting weekly. Then, with the idea of improving, since art criticism is a literary genre, I decided to participate in an essay workshop, which was led by the Venezuelan essayist Oscar Rodríguez Ortiz. I considered that in this workshop I could improve my spontaneity, fluency, and confidence in writing, but after several sessions I began to experience difficulty in writing. Every time I was faced with the blank page I was transfixed by its nakedness. The ease with which he used to write disappeared. From that workshop, before the blank page, I used to think a lot before writing. Constructing a sentence, a paragraph, stringing together ideas with the appropriate words took me longer than usual. I came to think that I had made a mistake in my profession, but the taste for the word, for writing, induced me to persist in that practice. Since I was having this difficulty, after attending the essay workshop with Rodríguez Ortiz, I told him:
— “Professor, it turns out that now it is more difficult for me to write. I don’t understand why”.
— “You’re learning to write”, was the only thing he said to me.
Those words of Rodríguez Ortiz still resonate in the dark box of my memory. Although the literature workshops are very helpful, since they provide theoretical and practical tools, I consider that you don’t really learn to write in them. You learn to write by reading a lot, writing, and rewriting, with the firm will to continue in that pleasant and long-suffering career.
What Rodríguez Ortiz said has made me think that writing is an exercise in awareness, of seeing, recognizing, and judging oneself: How do I write? what are my experiences in relation to writing? How do I carry out the writing process? What are my strengths, fears, and limitations against it? As we become aware of these factors, we assimilate the arduous craft of writing; each at their own pace, of course.
Miguel de Unamuno, to refer to the speed with which a writer produces a text, classified them into viviparous and oviparous writers. Although I still don’t consider myself a writer at all, I belong to the second group. Normally I am slow to write, because after reading an artwork, I have to incubate the ideas, the words, until they finally break the shell and come out into the light of the world, and thus, through writing, try as much as possible to name things, to unravel and interpret the meaning or intention of the artist, contained in the images of their visual compositions.
Written by José Gregorio Noroño, Arte Original.