I have always been a scribbler and published numerous articles in magazines and newspapers in my younger days. Then followed a career as and academic, demanding a very different set of skills when it came to writing. The rigorous training of research and writing up your findings provided me with a particular discipline and structure of writing to that which I was used to.
I remember as if it was yesterday in my early days of learning the academic discipline of writing, one of our Professors saying to me, “I am not interested in your opinion or what you think.” This was a real challenge to someone like me that has an opinion about any subject you care to mention! I persevered and eventually succeeded enough in the required practice to publish numerous papers and articles in various academic journals, delivered a number of papers at academic and non-academic conferences and even persuaded mainstream publishers to publish three of my books related to my particular area of interest.
I confess that the academic approach to writing didn’t come easily to me. It may be because it didn’t reflect my personality, which is to approach everything I do with enthusiasm and in terms of writing, a preference for a more free flowing style. It took me many years, and many failed attempts, to master its disciplined approach of critically reviewing one’s own as well as the works and findings of others. I do often wonder what the price of doing so might have been? Sliding doors; I may never know.
Putting this hard earned skill aside is both scary as well as exciting. It is scary because shedding the security of this particular writing discipline means I have to replace it with something else. The challenge is that I have yet to define and become familiar with what that something else might be. It is akin to becoming acquainted with someone new and developing an intimate relationship with them over time
As with a new relationship you have to get to know each other, warts and all before an enduring love can be forged. In my case it may rather be the re-acquaintance with an old flame, which is a whole new ballgame altogether! I have a lot of soul searching yet to embark on before I can honestly and confidently answer this question.
That something else also means I have to rediscover my own voice and find my own unique way of expressing my thoughts and emotions. The latter is particularly problematic as emotion is certainly not acceptable in academic writing, nor in the corporate life where I often apply my theoretical knowledge! And the book tribute is unashamedly emotional, it cannot be other given the circumstances.
During my musings this week of where and how to start writing my tribute, I had the great pleasure of travelling to York, North Yorkshire to meet up with a client. It was a glorious day with clear blue skies and I could only marvel at how beautiful the York Minster was bathed in warm, spring sunshine. I was reminded of the memories visiting the Minster with Eugene and the times of quiet contemplation we spent in the peace and tranquility of its interior. Eugene and Pieter so enjoyed wandering around the narrow, old and historical streets of York and The Shambles in particular with its ancient buildings.
The coaching session with my client was surprisingly serendipitous. We spent some time discussing the nature of creativity and how structure and constraints facilitate the process of creativity rather than obstructing it. Our discussions were truly inspirational and made me realise that a structure and discipline of writing does not necessarily get in the way of the creative process, but could actually enhance it. The next step is for me to consider what that structure should look like.