Writing Design: First class

I have always had a mixed feeling about my writing in general and about the CTS option Writing Design in particular. Insecurity. A lot of insecurities. I have no trouble with expressing myself in words. I can ramble and ramble for hours. But ever since I realize I need to take my writing more seriously, it strikes me that I’ve never been good at writing, for a purpose, for a reader.

Beside this blog, there is another, a personal one that I have been running for the past three years solely for the sake of keeping my head a thought-free and tidy place. It sorta makes my blog a digital diary, and hence more than two hundreds posts written, scribbled, jotted down, dashed off  in a clumsy, haphazard way. There is no limitation, no structure, no criticism, no obligation, no rule. Nothing but a sense of ultimate freedom – a secret place where I can be whatever I wanna be.

The idea of having my posts read and commented on frightens me. Many have shared the same feeling, like Paulo Coelh or Graham Storrs, expressing it in one way or another. (I am certainly not trying to place myself anywhere near the same level of such great writers, but as human beings, I believe in the possibility for us to resonate, to share empathy and to come across each other at some points during our journey in life). Writing feels like being yourself. But putting your writings out there feels like tearing off your comfort zone, and getting naked in public. And even though it is ‘acceptable’, I just don’t think I am ready yet.

Not until Writing Design happens. 

When we come across a good page, it reads good because it is the echo of our inner selves and we can say: “These are my ideas and my feelings, and if I had ever written about it, I would have wanted to write the same. My only regret that is I was not talented enough to describe it.” (Thu Giang NGUYEN DUY CAN).

Original in Vietnamese:

Khi ta tìm ra được một trang sách hay là vì nó là tiếng dội của lòng ta và ta có thể nói: “Đây là ý tưởng và cảm xúc của tôi, và nếu tôi viết ra, tôi chỉ muốn viết được như thế, chỉ tiếc vì tôi không đủ tài hoa để miêu tả được thôi.” (Thu Giang NGUYỄN DUY CẦN).

It is time to get over my fears, my weaknesses. If I like writing so much, then I will just go ahead and write. And not to worry so much about where it might end up. Well, that is not really what Writing Design is about. I choose Writing Design as my CTS option this term because I want to step out of my comfort zone. I want to write with a structure, a coherent meaning, a solid purpose. I want to write with a ‘style’.  As much as writing is to reflect oneself as a person, Writing Design is supposed to be about getting to know oneself and being oneself better through the means of writing/befriending languages, from the smallest units: phoneme, morpheme, syntax to literal meaning, phrase, sentence, discourse.

It will be a long wearying journey, but as long as I keep writing, no matter where I am heading, it will be a very, very happy place.


Warm-up exercise in Writing Design first class.

We were told to write, just write, nonstop and without concerning grammars or structures about the readings we had. So here is what I’ve had to say. It sounds like I was still clinging to my comfort zone, my so-called ‘personal thoughts’.  But I know that I need, and I will, try something else, something more experimental, more exciting, more not myself first to be my true, better self later. (Also, I wish I could type faster. But it seems like typing is already the fastest way of visualizing my thoughts).

This is my reflection of the ‘Octopus and Squid’ or ‘The Cephalopoda’s Sticky Embrace’ essay by Severine Chapelle, March 2015.

After finishing the third chapter, I had a moment of paralyzed.

I have never thought, read or looked at fish like anything that has been described or told in this essay. Well, not technically fish. They are octopus and squid.

Who’d have known that octopus and squid could have such a religious associated meaning. Who’d have known that they could even have a meaning at all, other than a very low level in the food chain. Just someone’s another meal. Other larger or higher in the cruel hierarchical of nature – sea creatures’ meal.

The first chapter to me is a sweet, one-sided love story. It touches those who might have been there, dreaming and silently observing their loved ones from afar, knowing that the chance for the two to meet is nothing more than to find the exact sphere of sand at the bottom of the ocean.

A diary of the…


And here is what my partner thought of my writing. I have already said this in person to him (twice), but there is an inevitable urge to say it again here, that it is undoubtedly true that he has made my writing sound a lot better than it actually does, reading this in front of the class:

.it reads like a process of thought, perhaps more coherent and singular than thought, but with the same gravity of process.

.it is nice to read, it takes one on a journey through a convoy of thoughts.

.the thoughts in the journey exist as tiny narratives, unconfined fragments of momentary stories.

.these fragments are small, and begin near enough to the start, and not too far from the end of the tiny narratives as to make them difficult to understand.

I wish I could have written better to deserve what he wrote.


We also practiced Haiku. We practiced to think about every single word as we choose more ingeniously. (Which I’ve failed miserably writing this entire post, needless to say. And at some points, it starts to feel a lot like an endless exhausting list of complaints. Sorry about that).

5 syllables

7 syllables

5 syllables

I hope you will enjoy my ‘contemporary’ version of haiku, which is also about the ‘Octopus and Squid’ reading:

embracing motions

ensconced underneath blue flows

lying wounded love affair


bubbles rose and pop

changes, as sounds, as fast, as lights,

ha ha ha ha ha

For next class: Bring in a piece of text you read recently that has inspired you or impressed you. You will be spending the whole term writing around/about that text. Preferably short, like a chapter, but it could also be an entire book.

Any moment I spare, I have spent thinking about what to bring. I can’t wait until the next Writing Design class, but I also hope it does take its time to come. Not so fast obviously!



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