On (Un)Original Individual writers




I am a writer, I am a son, I am a friend, a thinker, a student, a mentor, a teacher, a jerk, a deviant, a cynic, and a bleeding hearted hopeless romantic, but, I am a writer. As such, I embody all of these labels and categories unapologetically. According to Kathleen Blake Yancey, “Each writer is a combination of the collective set of different dimensions and traits and features that make us human.”

Individuality is an interesting concept to me, as each of us are shaped by our own experiences, cultures, heritages, beliefs, educations, etc. By this logic, we as individuals all tackle the art of writing somewhat differently than one another. I, for one, tend to either pose questions for myself that may lead to answers through the steady stream that forms from head to heart to keyboard. Others see writing as a daunting task, unnecessary to their lives, inconvenient to an extent. Some scrawl in notebooks, sticky notes, some transcribe prayers or song lyrics, only limited by the scope of their own imaginations.

With this, for a brief moment I put down my pen, take off my writer’s cap, and replace it with the one finely embroidered with the word student. While under this cap and the tutelage of one of my professors, the idea has been conveyed to me that no originality exists. There cannot be originality, as all of our ideas stem from another source, none of them strictly belong to us, they are just mere byproducts of the environments we inhabit and the interactions we experience. Individuality vs originality.

Text derive there meaning from other texts, written or not. All ideas have an influence that stems from elsewhere. So then the question becomes… can I, an individual, one who is entirely unto myself as a writer, create a work that is original, if all of my references stem from elsewhere? This question fills me with self doubt as I reflect on my own faulty ego. I am weak, I want to be not just an individual, but also someone with originality. If there are no original ideas under the sun, then what hope is there for this individual to discover one?

The answer lies in the question. I am an individual. There can be no original ideas left under the son, but the lens I see these ideas through is wholly mine. It is through my individual lens that I can express an unoriginal idea in a way that seems… original. Our lenses are the key.


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