I once had a teacher who encouraged her students to approach writing in a new way. “Consider the negative space,” she said. “What are you writing about? Examine and explore . . . but don’t forget to look at what you aren’t writing. It’s just as important.”
Over the years, this advice has stayed with me, because, yes, it’s easy to avoid writing about the tough stuff, about the traumas and injustices and painful memories that abound. About the risky stuff and the confusing stuff and the stuff we may never work out unless, of course, we write about it.
As a foreigner in Thailand, there’s plenty I’m not writing about, for plenty of reasons. I’m not writing about the fact that May has come and gone, and the anniversary of the 2010 red shirt protests. I’m not writing about my memories of that time, of the shock and disbelief at the violence and loss of life; of living on high alert; of stocking up on water and canned goods; of scouring the news reports for reliable updates and information; of praying that my husband, on a rare business trip out of the country, could safely return home from the airport at the height of the violence.
I’m not writing about the haunted feeling I got seeing photos online and on TV of streets and neighborhoods I knew transformed into deserted and fire-raged war zones. And of the fact that people lost their lives in those streets in unspeakable ways, leaving behind families, children, loved ones.
I’m not writing about my confusion and dismay at the western media’s portrayal of the violence, boiling down the events into easily broadcast sound bites, and I’m not writing about my own difficulty and frustration in truly understanding, as an outsider, what exactly happened in those two months, or what has since been happening in the undercurrent of Thai society.
And there’s more, plenty more, I’m not writing about . . .
What about you? What are you not writing about, thinking about, talking about?