Some fella once said that the unexamined life isn’t worth living. I just don’t know about that, though I suppose it depends on how you define ‘unexamined.’ For me, the purpose of writing has never been to shine a light on me, or even get near one, honestly. It is difficult, in the day and age of influencers and social media, to both write and live an unexamined life.
I love to communicate, but I don’t like to be visible when doing it. I don’t particularly care what people think, but I also don’t want to have to deal with what they think, either. I can be confident about expressing a feeling, but insecure about the feeling itself. Re-reading this makes me sound like a shitty, unrhythmic Alanis Morrissette song — and now I’m insecure about the words, too. ;)
When I started writing fiction, I started writing worlds for me to climb inside of and escape into. I wasn’t trying to teach someone, or communicate, or anything else other than escape or survive.
The reason I started to construct my own worlds and stories was because the ones I found just weren’t relatable. Did it have a mother? Couldn’t relate. A loving father? Trash. People that earnestly cared? Inaccurate garbage. A hopeful ending? Rubbish. In my defense, the only books I could regularly manage to get my hands on belonged to the very people I needed to escape.
At this stage, when writing first calloused my fingertips, I lovingly sanitized everything that could hurt me out of my writing. Including, and especially, myself. In those halcyon days of not knowing better, I thought the entire point of writing was that the author could disappear behind the words. Now that I think on it, what I was thinking of, apparently, was actor.
It wasn’t until I sunk more and more into writing in my teens that I struck on the realization that the stories I wrote that were compelling at all were exceptionally difficult for me to actually write. They hurt. It felt like ripping open fresh scabs and rubbing their contents on the page, and it read just as rough as you could imagine. Young, dumb, and numb— all I could manage was to bleed on to my canvas. Complex tone poems of corrosive despair clotted around possible plots and any favorable characters. Editing those stories was a nightmare it and rarely happened.
Over time and with encouragement from professors, my stories became more bloodless but also far more banal. Once I began to craft a life that was far more livable and enjoyable than my stories could manage, my dream of a lifetime — to be a writer — got packed away.
Writing is never something I can really escape, though, even though it asks more of me than I think I have. I’ve been quiet the last few months. Listening. Trying to figure out exactly what’s worth saying.
More importantly — what’s worth your examination.