The Anthropocene Reviewed is a podcast narrated by John Green in which he reviews various artistic pieces. In Episode 24, he talks about the artist, Agnes Martin, and her series of paintings called “With My Back to the World.” In this episode, Green mentions how difficult it is to express pain in art. When hearing this, I could not help but relate to the struggle of successfully conveying what is in my head onto paper; not just in art, but in my writing.
Eighth grade was when I first became aware of this disconnect between my head and the words that came out on my paper. I have always been proficient at writing, yet being the perfectionist I am I could never get it perfect for myself. I saw the images in my head that I wanted to come out in my writing, and I wanted my readers to see them as well.
When given the opportunity to write freely in class, I often wrote about underdogs, misfits, and monsters. These sound like cliche topics for writing about, but looking back, those were the topics that were easiest for me because I, myself, felt like I did not belong. I did not have many friends, and I felt isolated from others during that period in my life. My pain as an eighth grader was that of which many young people experience in our modern society. Not fitting in or feeling as though you do not belong is hard for humans because we are naturally social beings. We crave human connection and contact. I wanted friends more than anything. Later, in high school, I would find them, but eighth grade Delaney was stuck with herself; so I turned to writing.
I remember writing a creative piece about a man-turned-monster for school. My teacher ended up pulling me aside to tell me that my piece was fantastic, but surprisingly dark. We were given the freedom to write about absolutely anything, and I chose a monster. I was surprised she told me it was good because when I read and turned my piece in, it was not what I had wanted to create. Like John Green mentioned, it was hard for me to put my feelings into words and accurately describe my thoughts.
After this experience I began to recognize this disconnect. It didn’t negatively affect my writing, but it disappointed me because I wanted people to see and feel how I saw and felt what I was writing about. I wrote about this in another paper where my classmates and I were tasked with writing about how we could improve as writers. I described how I thought I could do better to accurately depict my imagination and feelings in writing.
My teacher pulled me aside again after I turned in this essay. She found it funny that I thought I needed to improve descriptions in my writing. She told me that my writing was beautiful and advised me not to be too hard on myself; but what she said next really stuck with me.
She told me that she understood that I was not getting the images I wished to convey successfully into my writing, but that I should not stress the process. Writers grow to become more descriptive and advanced with time and practice. She also said that it was unlikely any person would read the same piece of writing as someone else and see the same things in it or feel the exact same way.
Every individual is different and has experienced different circumstances in life. Where someone sees darkness, another may see a spark of hope or a lesson to be learned. Putting pain and other feelings onto paper or into art may be difficult, but the odds of someone viewing it the same way as another are rare.
My takeaway from this was one of fascination. Truly realizing that no one sees something in the same way is incredible to think about. It is incredible how many differing perspectives exist in this world among individuals. It is brilliant to see other peoples’ unique point of views, especially on the same topic because this is how our world moves forward. New ideas from old ideas create new ways of life and understanding. This is what sets human beings apart and accentuates our individuality.