In 2011, I started a community writing project called Checkerboard Collective, “a bi-monthly publication, in the spirit of fanzines of old.” I served as editor and contributed several pieces of writing (which are archived on this site). We had around 10 consistent writers, most of whom are dear friends with whom I grew up, and released 49 issues over the course of four years. Our last issue was released in December, 2014.
At the close of 2016, as has become my custom, I compiled a year-end film/television/music list. I thought about previous lists, about how they featured in various Checkerboard issues, and it made me want to write and publish again.
Increasingly, I write because of uncertainty. I may not understand myself or a thing initially, but the process of hunting for and heaving words onto the page is clarifying. I also (need to) write for pleasure, which at once prioritizes joy and resists the twin seductions of our time: trending and profiting. Last, I write because it slows things down and transfixes attention; it’s contemplative. Writing is an endeavour, a discipline. Though the value of such things is a largely receding tide in our technological-social-media landscape, I find any discipline and the effort required to sustain it inherently rewarding.
I realize that the impulses of clarity, pleasure, and contemplation need not be a matter of public consideration. No one wants or needs another blog. I could very well write privately and would likely experience a similar satisfaction (and do) were it not for another motivation: political purpose. And by “political purpose” I mean George Orwell’s notion that people write to “push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after.” Now, nothing and no one may actually be pushed or altered of course, but the desire for these things (which I have) requires public engagement. And regardless, I’m writing.