Writing is not Resistance, Writing is Submission

Remember the day we sat on a rock by the beach, transfixed by the waves, sipping our beers. And you made me promise the sea, out loud, that I would write more often. And so I write this, enamored as I am with your stories, your words, your knowledge.

Lately, I’ve been writing as a kind of revenge. To vengefully give a body and a life to what is not easily allowed to exist. Unrequited love, forbidden politics. Forbidden love, unrequited politics. What’s the difference anyway.

I wish I can be more political. Give you more hard facts, more numbers and events to analyze. But the truth is, sometimes, I write so you can see me, so I can make your heart beat faster. If I can’t do it with my hands, then I will do it with my words. My feminist alarm rings disapprovingly, even when you are a woman. But today this is as true as it gets for me. Maybe I have given up on the dream of writing to ignite revolutions. I’m much more humble now. Or maybe I’m less attracted to politics that isn’t poetic as well, no matter how radical it says it is.

These are times worthy of novels and poems. These tides of change, of going against the current. So many deaths, protests, betrayals, loneliness, heartbreaks, goodbyes. These are times worth reading about, years from now. Regime changes, and slight changes of heart that turn our lives around and take us on a different path than the one we had envisioned for ourselves. And in times when there is a surprise (good and bad) at every corner, it is crucial to write, to paint, to take still and moving pictures, to compose, to dance.

I only know how to write.

I do believe we have as much responsibility to write exquisitely as we do to just document what is around us and inside us. The impulse to express is important, but so is the craft that shapes this expression. I feel the warmth of the words burn in my belly, as a phrase starts turning in my head. Then I take the time to chop and change what spells forth, until the sentences develop a beat of their own.

You watch me justifying why I don’t normally share my writings. It’s too self-involved, I try to explain. My journal entries document sunsets, one crush after another, loneliness in a strange white city. You tell me that the best thing you can offer the world is to know yourself and write from intimate experience. I believe you. But I still don’t quite get it. Because here I am, wanting to delete this page for being too self-centered.

I write during difficult moments, when there is nothing else I can do. I survive on this faith that there is something bigger and more meaningful to such grief and anger. It must make sense somehow, if not today then sometime in the future. So I write it all down, as candidly as I can. Hoping that someday, I will read this and will be able to connect the dots, to see beyond the paralyzing despair of the here and now. That it will all be worth something in the end.

Cherrie Moraga says, “Maybe what I like best about writing is that it always knows better than you where you’re going, if you let it. This is also what makes writing so dangerous , that it can reveal to you what you didn’t now know you knew.” That is one of my dreams about my writing process, to be able to reach places that I am not consciously aware of. Because eh, writing can be an act of resistance, defiance, solidarity, survival even. But the most effective of words are not made of resistance. Writing is the submission of the faithful kamein.

I read your emails updating me on the goings-on of your life. I reread them, amazed at the gift you’ve been given that turns a chore, a night out, an encounter with a stranger on a plane, into language so beautiful I call it poetry. I am reading the email you sent me this morning, and it is the best lesson of why I write. Write honestly and beautifully, and that is as radical as I can get every time I work with words.

(To sara, samia, jehan and all of yous who poke and inspire me to write. I’m trying.)


Sawt al' Niswa



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