Michael Hagan ’15
When people ask me what my courses involve in Oxford, I swiftly respond, “lots of writing.” This has been a writing intensive year for me. My academic program revolves around the preparation and presentation of essays. It is a rigorous though not overwhelming pace of writing. With a little bit of discipline, one can navigate the academic term so as to only endure the occasional all-nighter or intellectual train wreck. One can write in comfort and security. Writing becomes a manageable chore.
There is certainly merit in steady, productive writing habits; they are essential to tasks academic and otherwise. Still, when writing becomes a chore (however enriching), one can lose sense of the vitalizing and connective power of the written word. When we write merely to communicate our more superficial ideas, we can lose touch with the passions and values that underpin them. Such is the authorial malaise I found myself in until recently.
Sometimes it takes another’s words to remind me what my own stand on.
Last month, my friend and fellow Friarside writer Abby Hevert was confronted by every study-abroad student’s worst nightmare. She received a call while traveling in Germany; her grandfather was dying. She was powerless to make it home to say goodbye in time, but she embraced this helplessness with beautiful grace. When she finally made it home, she did what only felt natural: she wrote.
This is why we write. We verbalize what we believe must be shared. Because Abby shared her story, hundreds of readers (myself included) have gained a small share of that highly communicative grace. We write to share our stories. We write to share our beliefs and values. We write to lend a hand. We write to open dialogue. We write about tricky subjects that some try to brush under the rug. We write to sort through our frustrations. We write about what frightens us. We write about what inspires us as well as what disheartens. We write about our niche interests. We write about matters much bigger than ourselves.
We do not claim always to write beautifully, and sometimes we can write recklessly. It was only recently that a friend drew my attention to something cruel and untrue that I wrote in an angry moment last spring. Writing makes us vulnerable to all kinds of criticism, and sometimes criticism is precisely the bucket of cold water we need.
Through Friarside Chats, we write about those matters we care most about. We write for a community we love. Friarside writers have all shared in a healthy, enriching, and constructive experience. It is an experience well worth sharing. This is why we write. Please, write with us.