The Recursive Nature of Writing

The recursive nature of writing is a circle.  There is the invention (the thought), then the composition (the writing or drawing), and finally the development (the process of revision). For example, I prefer free writing my invention. This gives me a chance to make a composition in which I can see my invention (creativity; design; device; thought). As I compose, I realize there is more to the invention, so I add. Then in the development stage, I can revise the process – add or subtract as needed.

Drawing Hands
Drawing Hands, by M.C. Escher

There is a quote by Harlan Ellison, “Writing is the hardest work in the world. I have been a bricklayer and truck driver, and I tell you–as if you haven’t heard a million times already – that writing is harder. Lonelier. And nobler and more enriching.” Here, he compares writing to bricklaying and truck driving. Writing is the most challenging work because just to be able to put thought to paper, may not always come out the way you think it should. It is not easy for some to just write out their thoughts. It can be lonelier than truck driving because it is just you and the paper – no distractions. But in the end, it is very noble and enriching to put your thoughts into words that others can follow through reading. And writing can make you feel proud of the work you put into it. This leads into the recursive nature of writing through the process of invention, composition, and development.

To compare it further, in the lithograph by M. C. Escher titled “Drawing hands,” one can see a relationship between two hands, the pencil, and the paper. They work together in drawing each other. We can also see the recursive nature of writing in this lithograph.  Without the invention, there would be no composition and development. What does this work of art mean? It means interdependence – to rely on each other to complete a task. The lithograph could be interpreted to mean that one hand is the mind and the other is hand. Your thoughts being “passed” from the mind, down the arm to the hand that holds the pencil to the paper. Both are independent, but both are needed to get out what is required to be said. The artist is trying to say that there is interdependence in recursive writing.

So, we see that the recursive nature of writing is circular. It starts with the invention (the thought), then moves into the composition (the writing or drawing), then onto the development (the process of revision) stage, and then back to the invention. So, one can see how it is like the lithograph, “Drawing Hands” by M. C. Escher. One can see that writing is harder than bricklaying and truck driving because it tends to be a lonelier job with minimal distractions. With recursive writing, you will feel an empowerment, a justification to write more and to allow the thought to flow to the pencil and onto the paper.