Writing, for me, has always been a powerful cycle of disconnection and reconnection. Living in Lebanon, a country of continuous political tension, I thought I needed some certainty in my life. I needed something concrete that I could hold in my hands and that wouldn’t escape me. So, after deciding to read “L’Étranger” by Albert Camus, the character of Meursault accompanied me wherever I went. I think about his inappropriate responses, his absurd thoughts and his psychological detachment from the world around him. Indeed, I see a Meursault in people and in my dreams and thoughts.
“L’Étranger” follows the life of Meursault, a complete stranger to society for whom everything makes no sense. He would say, “That kind of question made no sense” to a woman who asked him if he loved her. He would claim that “it was hard to believe they really existed” when it came to people he felt no connection with. This book sparked my desire to find meaning. So I decided I wanted to tell stories, to look at the philosophy behind the words I write. I fell in love with writing when I learned to read and understand the unspoken.
We still read Balzac and Camus because through them we learn the history and the lives that existed before ours. Even though these two elements seem opposite, we look for similarities in art that allow us to learn more about human nature. We learn to appreciate art and take something with us.
I have experimented a lot with my writing style and the ways of displaying my art. I tried to write poetry mourning the Lebanon we lost after the Beirut explosion, odes to friends who never left me, and stories about characters I created from zero. At first, it was difficult for me to think of my journals as an art form. I was too honest, too vulnerable; what i wrote was ugly.
I have written stories about misery, deep cuts, broken hearts and open wounds and still consider them beautiful because I haven’t internalized the feelings being expressed. I associated them with other tangible objects unrelated to me. Art isn’t meant to be beautiful, however. Written pieces are meant to be hard, rough, and transparent. In my journal, I wrote stories as they were revealed. I had no choice but to tell the truth as it was, no matter how ugly it was and how much I wanted to dismiss it as a lie.
Sometimes even I, the writer, don’t know what the truth is. I see writing as a process or a discovery of the truth. But the closer I get to it, the more I realize how far I am. Somehow it makes the trip even more interesting as I learn to accept uncertainty each time – because life is unpredictable, unpredictable and uncertain. We humans are also unpredictable, chaotic and sometimes irrational. So now, whenever I have any doubts, I hold on to my pen and open up the voices in my head. Thinking back on what I have written, I realize that I have asked more questions than I answered and that I do not understand half of the things I have written. Nonetheless, I keep the paper intact because some things are not meant to be understood and if my words ever reach other minds then it must leave enough for interpretation. I own these writings as much as the people who read them, write them down and think about them. They are mine as well as them.
All of these accomplishments have made me a better writer who is still figuring out which path to take, if at all. When I first started writing for the Stanford Daily, I could easily have written on a lot of subjects, but I chose to write about myself. I chose to write a personal story and share pieces of my heart with strangers. I wanted my real unfiltered self to be connected to others. It was a process of self-reconciliation as well as creating a platform to connect with others. For me, what matters most in this life is what you leave behind, what people remember you for. I want to be remembered for the good things I do with people, the emotions I allow them to feel and the words I have written that leave their mark on them.
Reading these songs, years from now, may not make sense to those in the future, but they did at some point. These emotions that I expressed were real as long as they lasted. Other people who went through those same moments would be on the same page and relate to what I wrote. They connected to them on the same level as I did while writing.
I do not in any way see the words on a paper itself as artistic. It’s about what happens in the writing process and what it leaves when it reaches people’s hearts. When I say I put my heart and soul into something, I literally mean it. It has to do with the degree of disconnection felt with the outside world and the degree of connection with one’s inner being. Once all is well, my hands begin to effortlessly type the words my heart and soul are saying. I almost feel like an observer who accepts my ideas. As long as it comes from within, then it is meaningful.
This does not mean that every art should have substance or meaning. Art can be a form of self-expression and it is well known that the self is complex. So expressing what one feels can be more of a liberating activity than a goal-oriented activity.
An important thing is not to feel pressured to How? ‘Or’ What, the means to achieve art. This is because art is a broad concept that is defined and redefined across time, space and life experiences. Sometimes I want to write without having an idea in mind. My first reaction is to panic. Then I remember that I don’t need to have a carefully laid out plan or a specific direction to follow. Indeed, stories generate stories. Everything I end up writing is considered an art form.
Another important thing to remember is openness. It means a willingness to discover the art of others, to learn from them and grow from their experiences, but also a willingness to take the road less traveled, to dare to express feelings not yet processed and to experiment. different types of art. After escaping my feelings and writing only about characters I saw in my dreams, I gathered enough courage to take on personal stories and share pieces of my heart. In addition, I have enjoyed discovering new artists who have also shared their broken pieces forming a deeply thought-out work of art ranging from musical pieces to 800-page novels.
Sometimes I look around and am struck by the beauty. I realize that there is so much more to this world that has not been told. There is also so much more for me, for you, for who and what we love, for art and meaning and everything in between. We’ve barely touched the surface and I’m ready for the dive.