Writing Ideologies and an Understanding of Selfish Art

As a student working towards a Master’s degree in Writing Studies, I understand that I am expected to become a part of a greater dialogue and contributor to discussions related to rhetoric, it’s history, how it is a necessary part of writing and how the thoughts on the art of writing have changed over time. Yet as I sit here, I become increasingly aware of just how little I truly understand, and find it increasingly difficult to contribute to the conversation when I have no steadfast opinion, no horse in the race, no stakes in the game whatsoever.

Instead, there are questions I find myself internalizing, as I reflect my own worth as a writer. I’ve never published anything, never even attempted. The novels I’ve written in the past have usually become the catalyst for wastebasket-ball, or, if not printed, tenants in prime real estate on hard drives that could have gone to more useful things like bitcoin wallets or dark memes, because my collection of those has never been quite big enough.

For thousands of years humans have used rhetoric in speech and composition, to persuade, give a call to action, relay messages, provide entertainment, among other countless reasons. While the idea of studying writing may be newer, the process of writing goes back generations. Some of those ancient texts are still read and studied today for the messages they convey. What would it take to write something that merits will outlive me?

The above question speaks to a relationship between the author and the audience, because the audience defines the impact of a work of writing. The 1960’s saw a groundswell of work related to the relationship between artist and audience. My work, however, rarely sees and audience eyes. I have a conscious need to get my work in front of eyes yet an outright fear of doing so, thus, my writing in it’s current state is a form of selfish art (Noah Gundersen would be so proud)

According to many theorists from this weeks reading, writers make choices. Every word put on a piece of paper is the choice of a writer, and creates a writers authentic voice, but I could never define my voice if I wanted to, to me it’s as non-existent reflection of me. I don’t know what my voice is, and I don’t think I ever will, as I will never get to read what I put down on paper without the lens of being the author that arranged them. My voice then is defined by an audience that I struggle to put myself before. How do I break this cycle?

I cannot even properly decide which of the ideologies that Faigley described in 1986 fits me as an individual. Expressivists value originality, the cognitive value recursive processes, and the social-epistemic value discourse communities and the development as a language as a social process. While I would love to say that I see myself as an expressivist, I’m forced to recognize that there is very little originality left under the sun. I would love to say I’m a social thinker regarding the writing process, but I keep the heart and soul of my writing hidden typically. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle, there is a time and a place for each ideology, and only through blending all of them can any form of writing, or teaching on the craft, stand the test of time, but, will I ever understand enough of each ideology blend them in such a way that I can have an impact on others?

I imagine, for the time being, I will continue to hold myself back, and let the spotlight fall on those willing to take a greater risk than I have been willing to up until this point. I once taught writing in a high school, despite feeling like I understand so little of what it is I actually do, or don’t do.