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A Room of My Own competition – Highly Commended: Alex Garrett

Filed under: Non-fiction

A Writer’s Paradox

To write is to communicate, in one way or another. To communicate, and communicate clearly, it goes without saying that the volume which occupies my brain is not nearly enough space in which to readily and thoughtfully express the non-verbalised thought whose tantalising meaning gets passed through the strainer of English every single time.
So a room. Will that suffice?

Perhaps; but then, perhaps not: here, a room is but a synonym for privacy, seclusion and solitude – a personal means to an inherently personal end. Yet such states are near impossible to achieve within the physical confines of four walls and a ceiling these days. For the ever-ubiquitous technology has transcended physicality, it would seem: phones, computers, laptops and tablets represent portals into the world beyond the window, a world of flow and rush, of instant gratification and of oppressive freedom. Social media is forever on my eye and I on it. The continents are at the tips of my fingers. All knowledge is within a few clicks.

The knock-on effects of such ease of access are depressingly evident. I can no longer bare to write a sentence without some dopamine-fuelled surge of desire to check and check and check winning me over. The only answer is strict self-denial – which is, in essence, the very antithesis of meaningful writing. For it is intensely personal thought which one pours into writing, thought which drives the ink to meet the page or the finger to the key. From where are such thoughts derived? One’s environment, surely. Too little exposure to the right kinds of information, and what is there to write about? Too much exposure to the wrong kinds of information, and the act of writing becomes an almost impossible task.

Where, then, should I draw the line? Sometimes I think I ought to lock my phone away, turn off the wi-fi, and move to the hallowed desolations of Siberia. But what would I bring with me? The revered works of those gold-plated titans who stand out there in the mists of glittering eternity? Tolstoy, Dickens, the Brontës… their works inspired and gave voice to a generation’s perception of love, politics, adventure, nature, freedom and fire. They rush continually down to meet us in a classroom at school, where the characters and ideas mix and mingle with our own.

Herein lies the essence of what I want to achieve. In a world where truth can be what you choose, where good and bad are indiscriminately blurred, where opinion and fact approach seeming synonymity, a clear voice which can be heard is what I strive for. It is the latter condition which seems so impossible to attain amid all the noise.

Yet, in a sense, the noise is my paradoxical subject. It is my inspiration and writer’s block, my words and the empty, blinking page. The power to influence the world seems only to exist outside of it – in a room of my own.

Whilst my phone is in another.

Alex Garrett
15 years old