It’s officially Spring now, and every school in a 300 km radius is advertising their uplifting, enriching, educating and life-changing programs you should enroll in, because they’re looking for you, and only you.
First of all, we’re all connected through Google or Facebook. You can always find me. You don’t need to look too hard.
Second of all, it makes me frustrated and sad, and leaves me feeling like I’m not doing enough, despite doing the usual things, like holding down a full-time job, a few hobbies and some functional relationships. Still, those advertisements make me doubt myself.
This year, however, is different. Because I took the proverbial bull by the horns, and started my blog! (In my mind, there is some applause inserted right here) Despite it having been conceived just last week and existing in such an early phase mother Internet is not yet aware of the pregnancy, I feel accomplished because I’ve completed one thing off my bucket list. Also, the blog is a way for me to establish and maintain a writer’s voice, so I perhaps could become an actual recognized writer today and fulfill my childhood dream.
But those damn advertisements make me nervous and doubtful.
As always, I tried to find comfort in the words of wiser men and women, and I once again stumbled upon a poem by the wonderful Charles Bukowski. You can read the poem in its entirety here, but I found this passage particularly pertinent:
I honestly don’t know, Charlie. You made me think about it, and in an attempt to earn my keep and comfort myself, I listed the 5 reasons that I write.
1. It’s all I’ve ever wanted. I remember teaching myself to read, and the marvelous magic of being able to understand all those papers and books all those very grown up people read. Adults were so impressive, I thought, with their coffee and nice clothes and melodic conversations I never really understood but found enjoyable to listen to.
Then, when I discovered you actually could write for a living, print down your thoughts on paper and have them made official, I was hooked, and I started writing my own stories very soon after.
Of course, as a kid, you dream of so many things. But more than anything, I wanted to become a writer – or should I say, published writer. Because the pages I wrote were already forming an endless ribbon of words, and I couldn’t seem to stop.
It still hasn’t stopped.
2. It’s all I’ve ever done. Yes, it seems so. Somewhere, in the hidden depths of my mother’s basement, there is a diary depicting every phase and era of my life so far. Some are more detailed than others, of course, and most is embarrassing scribbles of a young girl. But the point is, I wrote anyway.
Ryan Holiday wrote a nice piece on it (which you can find here on Thought Catalog) about living before writing. That’s a valid point and something worth crediting. I’m sorry, but nobody wants to read your old diaries. You’re not Anne Frank. But if it’s something your mind comes back to, if your hands search for pen and paper when you don’t even know what you’re thinking, then you’ll find a way to do it, too.
Just get a little more dimension into it, so it’s not only words flying into the periphery. God knows there’s too much trivial information out there. Please don’t be one of them.
3. It always comes back. Like an ocean wave at the beach, it’s relentless in its parry back and forth. No matter how many times it’s sent away, the waves will always return to kiss the beach, to remind it that they belong together.
My mind is a beach, and the urge to write keeps crashing down on me. I cannot count the times I’ve decided that I’m done, that I’ll settle down to a nice, proper job working 9 to 5.
But no matter how hard I try, I always end up writing more. Even when I promised it was the last time. It’s not an addiction. It just happens so naturally, it’s like trying to restrain your breathing.
You have to breathe. I have to write.
4. It’s the only thing that works. I say, it’s the only thing that works for me. For some years now I’ve struggled with a small variety of mental disorders, trying to cope with them the best I can, but the most effective remedy I’ve found so far is definitely writing about what’s troubling me.
And yes, I’ve struggled with the incessant need to write. I’ve tried to suffocate it and replace it. But at the very same time I’ve known that it’s the only thing that really works for me. It’s the only thing that keeps me sane.
As sane as you can be, when the only thing you want is to make fictional people do your bidding in your mind so they’ll be silent and you can move on. But still.
5. It makes me happy. I love the process of piecing together new characters, new settings, new plot lines. I can’t get enough of the planning and the research (and yes, I do believe writers have the most disturbing search histories). And the writing – oh, it’s a douleur exquise if there ever was one! Nothing compares to the bittersweet feeling of hating yourself for choosing to do it. It’s hard, all fumbles and clumsy attempts at beautiful sentences that leave an evangelical zeal ringing in the ears of your readers.
But you will choose to do it every time. Because nothing gives you greater pleasure than seeing the right words braid together with the right context. Your thoughts are translated into text for the world to read and understand.
And once they’re on paper, they’re no longer in your head. That means you get to start over.
That’s the best part.
So yes, Mr. Bukowski, I suppose I have my answer. I do want to be a writer. More than that, I already am one.
How about that?