otherwise known as Nicola Morgan, wrote a blog post on Help I need a Publisher on 2nd September stating, "You do not have a right to be heard." (When I work out how to do those fancy links you just click on I will do that and make your life easy. In the meantime head over to her blog and hunt for 2nd September.)
Her post generated some debate - including some cat hairs from yours truly. I decided to add some cat hairs here.
Nicola was, of course, talking about getting published. In that sense she was absolutely correct, nobody has a right to have others read what you have written or listen to what you say. Just because you have written something it does not mean that other people will read it - although I hope that someone is reading this.
We need to start earlier than this, much earlier. I think there are some cat hairs or ideas out there that need to be dealt with.
First, the most important thing anyone learns to do is communicate. If you cannot communicate you cannot connect with the world around you. Communication is a two way process. Communication occurs in an infinite variety of ways.
When I set out to persuade the United Nations to designate the year that became International Literacy Year I was hoping they would take a very wide view of 'literacy' because literacy comes in many forms, not just the ability to read and write. Literacy is only one part of communication. Learning to understand those funny little squiggles on the page or screen is only part of learning to read the world around us.
In order to be able to communicate we need to be able to read the world around us. We have to be able to place our own attempts to communicate in a context that others can understand. My experience of a chair is different from your experience of a chair. If I want to talk to you about chairs then we have to agree on what a chair is. We do this through a complex set of experiences which are presumed to be common (and sometimes called the same) but are actually different. I cannot sit in a chair for you. I cannot see it or feel it for you. We can however to agree to call an object a chair. We have communicated because, although different, our experiences are sufficiently close for communication to take place. It is pretty elementary sort of communication.
Now, having explained that rather badly, let's go a little further.
My second cat hair for the day is that everyone has the right to a means of communication. Now that is not a right to be heard but a means to make oneself heard and to hear others. It is the right to the means by which we can connect with the world. There are infinite ways of doing this. Language is infinite and takes an infinite number of forms.
My third and final cat hair for the day is that it is our capacity to use a means of communication which will allow us to be heard or not heard. We have to be able to make connections. The more connections the more successful we will be in allowing another individual to share an experience or imagine a new one. Connections need context. Context is observation. Observation is receiving as well as giving.
Writing is about making connections.