24.05.12 Sarah Koopman flexes her writing muscles for the first time on rémythequill.

In Words
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2012-05-31 - Study Time-1

Who we are is intrinsic. For a long time I felt awkward calling myself “a writer”. Almost as if I was putting on a costume that didn’t quite fit me yet. The title seemed too much of a title. Writing is something I do. It is something I’ve always done. But it’s not title-worthy. Or at least, I didn’t believe it was until I realised who I am when I write.

Suddenly, my thoughts aren’t as loud. My mind is not as cluttered. As if nudged into single file, things start to make sense.

As these thoughts shove through the crowd to make themselves heard, I find myself picking them seemingly at random; propping them up next to each other. Draping them around each other – playing with each one until the fit is just right. Arranging these thoughts and weaving them together leaves me with a sense of relief. Before they became too much I was able to make something of them; create an understanding of myself for myself, and for others. By throwing the weight off my shoulders and onto a page, I give myself the chance to step back, take a deep breath. This is my bigger picture.

Like losing yourself in the repetitive task of needlework, this bigger picture requires no second thought. Once I’ve decided to make sense of things, the bigger picture falls into place in what seems like a happy accident. The little soldiers that I’ve lined up one after the other have the greatest responsibility of all: to bare the weight of my context, experiences and understanding into the world. To make sense of me to others.

Realising that this is what I’m meant to do is both ultimately terrifying yet wholly liberating. It means that whenever I lose myself for a moment to put pen to paper, I am honouring myself in the truest form. It means that when others read me, they are reading me in the most honest way. It means that stories are mine to tell, that through me others can share themselves with the world. Romanticised? Yes! But that is the beauty of what I am able to do. What others create with sounds and images, I can build with words.

And that’s something you can’t do with an Instagram filter.

  • Composition and timing will beat Instagram every time 🙂

    • ALWAYS!

    • @sarah_koopman

      And they’re SO difficult to get right!

    • Mac

      Give this woman a Bell’s.

    • Amélie

      Yeah. Anyhow, we communicate with words and not with Instagrams so it stands to reason that writing beats this every time. And well done with this piece, SK!

  • James Cam

    It is so weird, but this is what I experience when I write as well. I really hate to say it, but when I find a piece or a sentence or a description that works, I hear that Katy Perry lyric from “Teenage Dream”: “I finally found you, my missing puzzle piece…”

    It’s lame, I know. But I was born this way, guys.

    • And we are all happy that you stayed this way…You’re on the right track, baby you were born this way. 🙂

    • @sarah_koopman

      *phew*

      For you to say this is what you experience when you write, means that I got it right. I managed to describe the process effectively, then. Much relief.
      As for Katy – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that soundtrack! 🙂

  • Natalie Du Toit

    Excellent piece of writing. Without asking, I know that Remy came up with that bio without consulting you, Sarah.

    Looking forward to more pieces.

    • I should start a business writing online bios for people.

    • @sarah_koopman

      Thank you so much, Natalie.
      Yes – it is an unsolicited bio, but it makes me sound relatively exciting, so I’ll keep it!

      • Unsolicited. Riiiiiight! I saw you putting it on your Linkedin profile!

  • Melanie Forsworth

    Good piece, Sarah. You captured all of the things that writers feel. Writing is scary. You have to trust that the words will represent you, that they will make sense to other people. It’s like attending a house party with your seven-year-old kids in tow. You pray to God that they will not embarrass you, that John won’t tell everyone something inappropriate innocently, or that Kate won’t go into her spontaneous dancing routine.

    You hope that when all is said and done everyone can pat you on the back and commend you for carrying them for 9 whole months. My advice: 1) keep on writing and 2) don’t have twins! 🙂

    Also, “she makes ends meet by tweeting and part-time superheroining” is just plain funny. This economy, hey.

    • “My advice: 1) keep on writing and 2) don’t have twins!” is possibly the funniest advice I have heard in the past year.

    • @sarah_koopman

      I have the strangest love-terrified relationship with writing. There’s nothing I enjoy doing more, but you are so right – writing is scary. Sometimes, staring at a blank page and knowing it’s on you to fill it with something meaningful is paralysing. And depending on what you’re writing, the process can be searingly painful as well. Not knowing how they’re going to greet people when you finally give them a public showing is just as daunting.

      But it is always followed with relief (which comes after the initial self-depreciation). That sense of having offloaded a burden – whether it was a good or bad one – is a lightness that is difficult to describe. Thank you for the encouragement to keep writing. As for the twins – noted! 🙂 😉

    • Mac

      Twins are the best though. The havoc they create is on another level!

      With that said, Sarah, writing will never be easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it. Writing is like posing nude. People see what is on your mind. Let’s face it, when it comes right down to it, nipples are nipples and belly buttons are belly buttons. Nudity is easy. Letting people know that this is the way sunlight makes you feel or that your heart was broken by some ex or that you dream up characters called Hermione Granger….that’s really scary. It’s voyeurism.

      You have every right to be scared by writing. And every reason confront that fear everyday, by writing some more.

      • “You have every right to be scared of writing. And every reason to confront that fear everyday, by writing some more.” – Possibly the coolest thing I have heard in the past however long.

      • @sarah_koopman

        ‘Letting people know that this is the way sunlight makes you feel or that your heart was broken by some ex or that you dream up characters called Hermione Granger….that’s really scary.’ – So true. Yet, while petrifying, it is the only way I know how to make sense of that sunlight, or that broken heart. Writing makes everything make sense 🙂

  • 73W

    I don’t see myself as much of “writer”. Although my work demands that I write daily to make ends meet, it is more academic and analytical writing – writing that isn’t it’s an expression of me or my head space.

    My aversion to writing is probably deep-rooted in some childhood memory of an elementary English teacher telling me that my work was “just good enough for a pass” yet the grammar and vocabulary were flawless. I have since veered toward numbers, but on the odd occasion when I do write it is the most liberating experience. For me, writing has become a way of bearing all and clearing my mind. It is a difficult process to start I find, but once I begin as Ted Hughes alludes to in his poem Thought Fox, like my thoughts the words fall into place as if going about their own business.

    Thank you for the post ( and bringing out the lil’ writer in me in this comment ). Looking forward to more posts.

    (:

    • @sarah_koopman

      I guess we find our niches – or rather, they find us – without really realising it. Like you found numbers – and make a living out of analyzing them.
      Writing is indeed a liberating experience, especially when you use it to sift through your thoughts and clear your mind. Starting definitely is the most difficult part, but it’s always worth pushing through.
      Thanks for reading (and for a lengthy comment). I hope Mr Quill will find a space for my musings again 🙂

    • Mac

      In 5th grade, I was told that I was better at sport than writing…but I didn’t want to give it up. So I became a sports writer. It works. 🙂

      • @sarah_koopman

        I’ve always been a storyteller. Before I could write, my mom says I just didn’t shut up. Now, I get paid to tell stories – mine and other’s – and I couldn’t be happier. There’s something to be said about pursuing a passion! 🙂

  • Mhlongo

    Good piece, Sarah. Keep it up.

    • @sarah_koopman

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting 🙂 hope I can keep it up!

  • Ama-writer-writer

    I have been wondering whether The Quill would ever allow guest bloggers to contribute. It seems fitting that the first piece would by a guest blogger would be about writing. It is a really clever piece of work, well done on the writing. I am looking forward to more from you.

    Now I am just going to sit and wait for The Quill to also swing his fancy this way. I have Fanta…and I am willing to share it!

    • Fanta? Inflation, dude. Now it’s Fanta, tea and Madeira cake. At the same time. If you don’t have any of them you can’t participate.

    • @sarah_koopman

      It was definitely not planned that way – for the first contributor post to be about writing. Like most good things, it was a ‘happy accident’ 🙂
      As for guest blogger – I’m going to bow out of that title, purely because I don’t have a blog and have never considered myself to be a blogger. Absolutely nothing wrong with blogging, but it’s not a box I fit into. I only just got used to calling myself a writer! 🙂 But thank you none the less. I hope I can keep this up!

  • Hlokwayo

    “Realising that this is what I’m meant to do is both ultimately terrifying yet wholly liberating. It means that whenever I lose myself for a moment to put pen to paper, I am honouring myself in the truest form.” – This totally deserves some kind of photo-text design. Quill, get on it. Like now!

    • The way I am just being ordered around today. Hmmm…

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