One of my personal frustrations is my inability to get my thoughts into words. What seems so clear in my head usually comes out as a jumbled mess to begin with and needs to be carefully crafted into something that can be communicated. It slows the process down a lot and an idea often has to spend months dwelling around in various forms, being nibbled at and moulded into shaped before it’s ready to come out.
I was thinking tonight that it would be great if I could write more… But that’s not really the problem. I write plenty, what I struggle with is the fact that I don’t think in words. My thoughts take a very different form and something that is a struggle to describe.
They are visual and sensory objects to me. They are often pieces that join together – not like a puzzle but as a truth. Complexity is there and can be felt rather than explained. Their is a physicality to these thoughts, a real weight and mass. They are solid rather than ephemeral and gossamer. What I struggle with is translating these truths in to words. To encode and abstract them into language and structure then in text.
An example is probably my first memory and inclination of this problem. It was back at uni and I was trying to think of a project to develop for my major work. One of the ideas I had was to map a four dimensional space. In my mind it was (and is) as clear anything but any attempt to verbalise – even to visualise it is hopeless. I spent a long time with that one, eventually dropping out of uni and heading out into the workforce. There was a number of factors in that decision, but my inability to get out an idea scared me – how could I spend time one something that I can’t quite describe?
What tends to come out is not what I see, especially in it’s initial form. The best comparison is Terry Pratchets description of the colour of magic:
It was octarine [the eighth colour], the colour of magic. It was alive and glowing and vibrant and it was the undisputed pigment of the imagination, because wherever it appeared it was a sign that mere matter was a servant of the powers of the magical mind. It was enchantment itself. But Rincewind always thought it looked a sort of greenish-purple.
That’s what happens to my ideas when I translate them to words – they become a greenish-purple – a poor representation of my minds eye. An inferior description that does little to capture the truth and true nature of the thought.
I want to work on that this year and I’m willing to trying and be more iterative in my ideas – to put them out in various forms, remould them, change them and adapt them over time. It’s slightly scary because it’s a vulnerability I don’t usually expose… but hey lets give it a go!
Featured Image: Canvas of Clouds by Tim Klapdor BY-NC