Becoming a writer

 

What type of people decide to become writers? How much self-confidence does it take to decide one day: “I’m going to be a writer.” What level of self-indulgent satisfaction must one reach before they finally hit send; publish.

I imagine them jotting shit down at an elegantly disheveled desk. Writing with feverish intent and concentration. And not on a computer! With a pen. Just like in the movies. But who’s in the picture? Appears to be white dude in his 50s with a dad bod and greying hair. He wears stylish glasses.

Why does this image come most naturally to me?

I can’t compare myself to this portrait. I’m all over the place. But I like to think my mind has more in common with that dude’s desk than him: it’s messy. But full of curiosities and stories that might be worth organizing and sharing someday.

Are these thoughts important enough share? Will anyone understand? This isn’t even an original story! Who fucking cares? We’re all dust on a rock.

The insecurity finally wraps it up and makes a final call: yeah, you’re not important enough to write. Which, is totally valid. We’re all guilty of finding too much interest in the things that happen to us. Shoving meaning into every synchronicity; scribbling them in our journals so they’ll last a little longer than us. Taking note so we don’t forget to include these connections in an upcoming article or novel. We’re often stuck planning and daydreaming, forgetting that every single thing that happens to us in every single moment is so improbable it’s worthy of a story.

Whether or not the words we say hold their weight or will ever make it into the pages of a book — we’re human. We have a lot going on in our heads. So nevertheless, people will talk, and writers will write.

My mind is full of jumbled grey thoughts that I want to sort into straight black and white lines. And if I don’t, they’ll cloud my mind until the droplets dissolve and drown my brain. Do we drain our minds just to fill the minds of others? Well that just doesn’t seem fair. What a burden all these thoughts and words can be. Aren’t there easier ways to understand each other? I can think of a few…

Overthinking and overdoing. Too obsessive to be a writer. Trapped by organization and to-do lists. Dishes. Vacuum. Items to purchase. ATM withdrawals. Send Jane a card. The chores pile up until I neatly fold them away. Check. Done. My mind briefly clears. Only then: I write. Just until a new disorder arises, ready to be washed away.  

When you imagine the average writer or artist, you probably don’t think about a high-strung neat freak. Don’t successful writers and artists thrive in mess? Unbothered by (or feeding off) chaos and petty detail around them? Always a little bit late? Spiraling around, exuding creativity. Their work appears to be an effortless continuation of their body.

If it takes an airy confidence and nonchalance to become a writer and actually publish your work, then I don’t stand a chance. Writing for me is like pulling weeds or cleaning out an attic of oddities. I closely examine, critique, then toss in the trash. My favorite key is usually the one that deletes.

These historic, romanticized archetypes of writers and artists (from that old white dude in his crowded library to the whimsical hippie) prevent people like me  — a hyperactive, slightly bothered  young woman — from even considering writing in the first place. I don’t fit into any of these usual formulas or codes that breed writers and artists. There aren’t that many relatable role models for me to choose from. Maybe Sylvia Plath? There are more, but not nearly enough.

These historic, romanticized archetypes of writers and artists prevent people like me from even considering writing in the first place.

No matter how far we’ve come, women still have to work twice as hard as men to prove the worth of their words.

It’s even harder for women with mental disorders who aren’t exactly on their A-game all day everyday. We still need more diversity in our bookstores. Especially neurodiversity. People with the most difficulty speaking have the most beautiful things to say.

And writing can bring method to the madness.

Writing can serve as a meditative practice to calm and heal the mind. To clean out the cobwebs. But remember: self-care and charity work alone are not going to push us forward. Writing gives us a chance. And sure, when you zoom out the linear perspective lattice, the waves of our voices might end up being the most miniscule blips in a universe of noise. Someday they’ll just fade away. So what’s the point? It could make a difference to some people, at some point in time. And at that exact point, a drop will fall, causing a ripple in the whole network.

Really though: Who decides to be a writer? Who even gets to decide in the first place? Who writes and who is remembered? Many men before me seemed unfettered from simply writing. It should be easy, right? Just start. Pen to paper.

Nah.

It took me years to even fathom what it would mean to become a writer. A tug-of-war between you can do it! and you really shouldn’t. I have a feeling I’m not alone in this internal struggle.

Part of me thinks I don’t know enough to write. I need to read more, learn more, and research more before I can even begin. Added credibility and understanding is important, but what happened to appreciation of intuition? To thoughts and feelings detached from external sources? It’s all just a bunch of anecdotal bullshit, right? With no clear function or proof in the material world. Logic and ration only please, hold the poetry. Are children’s musings completely worthless? Is the nonsensical meaningless? Pure expression (especially from women) is automatically subject to discredit and question. Put it in a song or a painting. But stop writing about it. Don’t even talk about it. No one wants to hear about your personal opinion or feelings. So the world is bursting at the seams with eager journalists collecting and foraging big, important stories outside of themselves. What happened to all the philosophers digging through tunnels from the inside out?

Pure expression (especially from women) is automatically subject to discredit and question.

Is it crazy to be vocal? Maybe some people with loud (read: in use) voices are off their rocker. People with messages: writers, singers, artists, homeless people with signs on the street. The swaying mental instability pushes them to write, to speak, to publish. Perpetually reflecting against others for everything from survival to self-validation.

Maybe it’s an urge to be heard after being ignored. Words can fill emotional voids, and sometimes people need to scream.

“Hush.”

Stop telling us to be quiet. We’ve been hushed for too long.

We all come from and return to the silence. Life is the passage in between  —  full of patterns and energy, color and sound. Everything from nothing. It’s your choice to listen, to turn up the volume before your ears evaporate, or turn it all off. You won’t like everything you hear, but there’s beauty inside.

Unheard voices are not void of meaning. Unremembered voices from the past, forgotten by history, are not void of meaning. I want to hear them. What’s going on in their scattered minds? Maybe better ways to live, to heal, to give, to savor. Thoughts in the most unlikely brains hold unlocked knowledge with traces of everything. It’s time to evolve the conversation and diversify our schools of thought. Let the unspoken speak.

And start writing.

Becoming a writer wasn’t easy for me. Neither was becoming a woman. But now that I’m growing more comfortable saying I’m a woman, it’s also easier to say: I’m a writer.

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