[Read directly at Magdalene.co]
by Jennie M. Xue
Writing and traveling have been tremendously helpful in my healing process from a recent divorce. Meditating and praying too, of course. But writing, especially, has been my “weapon of choice,” as it gives me both freedom and discipline.
A productive restless soul, I always need to be on the go and produce something out of the stream of creative juice that seemingly flows endlessly. Talking things out isn’t sufficient, I need to jot down ideas, thoughts, narrations, and hypotheses so the mind can be cleared out for the day.
I believe writing is more accountable than speaking verbally, because you can think before you say anything and can return to it whenever necessary. Blurting things out without thinking is one of my pet peeves. But of course, that’s me. You might approach your life differently.
Writing is powerful. When it’s combined with traveling, it’s even more powerful. I’m not a travel writer by vocation, but I do write about places I visited and people I met from time to time. Writing about them allows me to sink things in, not merely looking at them without doing anything.
Writing gives me an active role in life. I can train my mind to think in a more disciplined way. Sometimes using the left hemisphere of the brain, sometimes the right one. Either way, it’s a part of myself, which I’m sharing with the world.
I admire prolific and multigenre authors, like Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, JK Rowling, Jodi Picoult, and many others. They confirm my belief that a person doesn’t need to be a specialist. And an author can write for various genres, both non-fiction and fiction. Even going back and forth between serious academic and journalistic works and literary and contemporary fiction genres.
An influential and controversial science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein once said, “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” And I can’t agree more.
I admire today’s opinion-shaping contemporary pundits —both liberal and conservative ones, like Paul Krugman, Arianna Huffington, Robert Reich, Jonah Goldberg, and Dinesh D’Souza, equally as I adore influential fiction authors, like Nicholas Sparks, John Green, Gillian Flynn, Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Weiner, Lee Goldberg, and Barry Eisler. They have their own strengths and weaknesses. Reading their works is like looking at glass-stained windows. Some have nice and beautiful colors and shapes, while others are different yet opening a portal to another world.
As the philosophy of The Divergent futuristic post-apocalypse series by an amazing teenage author Veronica Roth attested, we humans aren’t just one, but all. We all belong to the five factions —Abnegation, Erudite, Dauntless, Amity, and Candor— for we simultaneously serve others and are intellectually superior, brave, peaceful, and just. Why do we limit ourselve and others with restrictions?
Our mind and heart must be opened, so more lights can come in and illuminate our inner selves. Writers have the choice to write for various purposes, multiple genres, and numerous topics. Just like a human being who juggles gazillion things on daily basis.
A while ago, my childhood friend asked, “Why do you write?”
I answered, “Because writing, like speaking, is a vehicle to get messages across.”
She didn’t ask why I travel alot, but if she had asked, I would have answered, “Because traveling allows me to confirm what I believe with facts.”
My recent divorce was a journey to a foreign, unknown, and scary place. I stayed in a confused and dark place for a while. Today, it’s not so foreign as I’ve made many new friends and learned plenty interesting things. Apparently, it’s just a crossroad to more choices and more interesting places to go.
Life is a journey. We visit many places, meet many people, and learn many interesting things. Throughout my travels, I record them. That’s a writer who travels. Just like you.
Magdalene, April 3, 2015