Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Writing as a Way "In"

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Writing as a Way "In"

I think many writers would agree that, in the beginning stages when we first pick up the pen, writing is a "way out" for us. It offers something therapeutic, or in more dramatic cases, the promise of salvation. Of course the reasons writers write are all so infinite, though it's hard to deny that the act itself is cathartic.

As I kept writing through my late teens/early twenties, though, it seemed that the wisdom gained from writing couldn''t come from writing as "a way out" or a way to mend something. The writing has to start being "a way in." And I don't mean inward as an expression of one's interiority, but a drive to understand or grasp or even lightly fathom human identities on a larger scale. Suddenly the idea that "I" am writing seems to change--the writing senses a purpose and what throws that purpose alight.

Maybe this post waxes a bit too poetic, and forgets the fact that writing can also just be fun (or for fun!). It doesn't always have to function on a desire to epically change the course of the world or solve its problems.

I myself forget that creative writing can be fun sometimes. Maybe it's the diet of academic writing I fed on for so long. Or maybe it was my stint as a journalism intern at an important publication in NYC where I was told my reporting style sounded "a bit too smart." Or conversely, maybe it was that one "B" I got on a university paper that broke my heart/ego. For most of my life I've been hard on myself with my writing and not even just for grant purposes. But now I'm trying a hand at a new experiment - writing as a way "in"--to embark on a kind of writing that can take a good look at itself and write from the most authentic place possible.

Maybe what I'm vouching for is for a writing that's "inside out."

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Adebe DeRango-Adem

Adebe DeRango-Adem is a writer and doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work has been published in various North American sources, including Descant, CV2, Canadian Woman Studies and the Toronto Star. She won the Toronto Poetry Competition in 2005 to become Toronto’s first Junior Poet Laureate. Her debut poetry collection, Ex Nihilo, was longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize. She is also the co-editor, alongside Andrea Thompson, of Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out. She was recommended by current Poet Laureate of Canada George Elliott Clarke as a young black "writer to watch".

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