As a human being I find so many voices in my head. Some kind, some guilty, some heart broken, some hopeful, some tormented, some loving, some hurting.
As a writer, I bury some of them.
I know that’s odd. Aren’t writers supposed to give voices and not take them away? I know that’s how I began this blog. To give those words in my head a place to dance around, validated by me, on my screen. Maybe on some of your screens too sometimes.
But being a writer is a scary thing, especially when you know that sometimes some people read what you write. At first it felt great It felt like what I had to say was relatable, like it mattered, like people cared and like maybe it could make a difference.
But eventually it began to get a little annoying.
People assuming they know you, sometimes people who’ve never even had one real conversation with you in five years (or ever), because they’ve read a few things you’ve been writing.
People who confine you to your words, to your writing, when you are a dynamic, changing, shifting, transforming entity outside words strung together on a screen.
People who look at the things you’ve been writing and think they know what’s going on in your life, or worse yet, in your heart.
“They don’t know me, they know a blog I wrote.”
“Maybe I can’t put this down here, it makes me look like a bad person.”
“I want to write about this, but I don’t want my ex boyfriend and my ex ex boyfriend and definitely not my uncle and my boss to read this.”
“I can’t write this, they will know I am not alright. Then they will think they know everything.”
“I can’t write this. Then I will know I am not alright.”
I don’t know when just doing want I wanted to do and speaking about the things I wanted to got so complicated. Turns out, having a voice is a double edged sword, whoda thunk.
I started blogging because it gave me a place to put down all those things that I always thought would make for a great read. But when I began writing I realised that it was more about the things that would make for a great write(-ing experience). It was never about another person, it was about me. If someone else read the things I wrote and had a thought or two to take back from it, that was simply a bonus.
Writing like this got me through some really rough years. It made me come to terms with some terrible losses and confusing decisions. It helped me accept myself as I was unearthing parts of me that were less than perfect, less than pleasant. Then one day I decided that it wasn’t good enough. I decided that I could be better and SHOULD be better, not for the write, but for the read.
I decided to create a separate blog for my rambles and rants, I wanted quality content on my main blog. The rambles were far less frequent when I knew that they would go onto a whole other blog with far less followers. So I had to ask myself, was I really writing to write or was I now writing to be read?
I didn’t know the answer to that one, so I kept at what I was doing anyway, trying to enjoy the ride.
Then came the J-school stint. I didn’t get my degree, but I learnt the importance of the heavy hand of editing, of a structure, of the art of story telling and magazine writing. And then nothing was ever good enough anymore. Nothing.
Everything I even thought of writing seemed too inconsequential if it wouldn’t fit into some sort of a story. With a full time job and my hand in a whole bunch of other passion projects, I didn’t have the time to chart out elaborate stories and edit them to the last dot. It slowed me down a lot, but quality over quantity was my mantra and that was working fine enough at first. So I let it be.
I have been trying to write a book since I was twelve. But I have always said that there are two kinds of people in this world. Some who lead an extraordinary life and know that their wisdom and experiences deserve a book, and others who know that they see things in an extraordinary way and simply must write books.
If like me you fall into the later category, you know you have written like 20 books already in your mind. But to actually know the one you want to manifest in the physical world is a real feat.
Three years ago, I thought I finally knew what my first book should have been about. It was a bunch of semi-fictional short stories about alternate happy endings to love. Which is how the world’s slowest reader/writer began writing her actual first book. It took a long while, and I vowed to have it done by last year, but my computer crashed and along with it went a couple of stories I knew I couldn’t write for the second time. So I submitted one piece to Thought Catalog, and put out the rest here and on launchora, a platform for short stories. I never re-wrote story 4 and story 10.
Of course all of this took a shot at my belief in my will to actually keep doing the only thing I believed I was truly exceptional at. The one thing I knew I was going to have to do for the rest of my life. My lack of belief in myself did not bring to me 250 million people who would come and reassure me that this was indeed my calling. In fact, the longer you stay away, the more people forget you, I know, quelle surprise!
Then it reached a point where even thinking of a blog entry (which of course seemed like too petty a term now, I preferred ‘article’ or simply a ‘blog’) began to seem exhausting. That story needs more information, more structure, more understanding, more time to edit (if only I cared half as much at J-school, I’d probably have that degree now, eh?). I don’t have that time so let me just not…..
Yeah, there was a lot of that. Which needless to say rubbished my quality over quantity theory because, how much quality do long periods of silence really have? (Okay don’t get all philosophical on me now, it was just a rhetorical question)
This phase was befriended by the songbird of tragedy — props for still keeping alive the dramatique in me.
You see, it’s been a SUPER rough year, to say the least, and we are only three months in. And after a few heart wrenching losses, I think I just didn’t know what I would want to say if I sat down and began to write (yes, I would write this, I see that now too, thank you very much for noticing). They (inspirational internet quotes) ask you to sit in front of a screen/paper and bleed but what if I didn’t want to hear the things that I would say? What if I didn’t want anyone else to see it either? So tragedy really, really took away my last bit of will to even try to write as well.
I think it got to a point where between splitting my content on 235250295252052 portals, attempting to stay authentic to why I do what I do, wanting to always, always, always put out writing that would be my given best at the particular point, trying to be cautious and trying to be brave, I just forgot trying to actually write something.
I am going to control every little cell in my body that is screaming at me to go back and edit this piece because this isn’t about putting things in the best way, it isn’t about getting a lot of readers, it isn’t even about being brave (that part about my computer crashing, scandalous, I know!). It’s about breaking the cycle. Here’s to!