Friday 5 December 2008

Why "writingfortruth"?

When I asked my husband to buy me the address “writingfortruth” for my blog he tried to dissuade me. “People will think that you are a political writer, uncovering conspiracies and hidden agendas.” I thought about it. “Well,” I said to him the next day, “I still want the address. It doesn’t matter if I disappoint some people. In a way I am trying to uncover conspiracies, the conspiracies of ordinary human beings, the lies they tell themselves to cover up the truth, the one truth that nobody can deny; that our journey on this earth here will come to an end for everyone of us. Nobody likes to talk about this end. Rather they distract themselves. If I am rich, if I have children, if I am famous, if I am successful in my career, if I am educated, if I am cultured,….then what? The end will still be the same.” However, I believe that when you let go of all these ideas, when you take away all those outside layers of the human being and come to her essential truth, to what Erich Fromm calls the “human essence”, the very thing that makes you human and links you to every human being on this planet, then your journey will have no end.

In a way, this is what I am aiming at in my fiction, to point to this essence, to this truth of our humanity. Franz Kafka said once, “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.” I have no idea what he considered to be the frozen sea, but the sentence struck me as relevant for my writing even though I don’t like the metaphor of the axe. I understand what he means, and I respect the axe, but it’s not my way. I prefer a gentler method. I prefer my books to have the power of the rays of the sun, thawing the frozen sea inside us. To be able to achieve that is a continuous struggle for the writer. She has to get her own self out of the way first, take an axe to her own frozen sea. Every book will demand a different axe. If we want to stay with this metaphor, she has to make a hole in the ice where she can fish for truth, like the Innuit who accept that they cannot wait for the ice to melt before they can feed themselves.

Another writer, Hélène Cixous, has expressed this same demand in a different way: “A writer has no children; I have no children when I write. When I write I escape myself, I uproot myself, I am a virgin; I leave from within my own house and I don’t return. The moment I pick up my pen – magical gesture – I forget all the people I love; an hour later they are not born and I have never known them. Yet we do return. But for the duration of the journey we are killers.” If you kill your family you kill aspects of yourself that might distract you, the wife, the mother, the daughter, the sister, until there is nothing left but your essential self. The truth is hidden in this essence. The paradox is that only when you have stripped yourself of everything can you write with your own unique voice. My vision for this blog is to record the struggles of writing, the pitfalls we all face as writers, the lies we tell ourselves, and the distractions we fall prey to, when things go well as much as when they don’t.


Unknown said...

I will Inshallah be ordering a copy of this book today, Well done Fatima! It is very good to be recognised with the award for Muslim Writers. Faoud

pam said...

i like what helene cisoux says, and as for the axe to break the frozen sea within us, well, what a metaphor, love your inspirational blog

Reborn Writer said...

Assalaamu'alaikum Fatima,

Thank you for starting this blog. I hope to read more posts from it soon insha'Allah.