i always meet people who ask me,
“why the hell do you write.”
“why do you waste your time reading novels.”
well, i don’t have answers to their questions,
because they’re comments...
they end with full stops, not with question marks.
why do i love art?
is it because i love million dollar bills?
but so many great artists died poor. economically.
is it because it helps me heal?
but death and love always hurt. even in literature.
but why do i love art?
because i love listening to stories,
of people who are lost in the maze of life.
of incidents that i won’t live long enough to experience.
i read to learn.
i read to live.
i write to tell stories,
of my own,
of my beautiful ghosts,
of my dearest love.
if i could tell you what i’ve learnt so far;
a mute girl taught me
how she can’t lie but her life itself was a lie,
a queer cowboy taught me
how life is so much more than tags.
a doctor’s last day at college
taught me not to have any regrets.
a failed artist taught me
the beauty of the world is in its complexity.
a blind guy taught me
how he can see everything, just the way we can unsee.
there are so many stories to be told,
like never before.
i have words.
so many of them.
even if i had just a few;
i’d have shuffled them
to write poetry.
Because i want to live life....
Of Words and Worlds
When you’re a kid, you’re relatively powerless. Add being an only child, having a painfully bashful predisposition, and having an eccentric personality that you’ve yet to really grow into, let alone embrace—and you have younger me. I had a crippling phobia of ball so gym became a nightmare. It was a required class too, thus I’d often find myself stranded amid a cacophony of balls flying, kids screaming, and teachers perhaps too distracted to manage the chaos. I’d sag off into my corner and watch, hoping for the chaos to keep at bay. Feeling like a coward. Cultivating a complex that would morph and lead to a smatter of other insecurities. At the core was powerlessness. I was small, even for my age. I knew death before I should’ve, maybe. And then again. Again. Again. Powerlessness became a fixture. And there was no friction to be had outside the escapism provided by creativity. Television. Movies. Other people’s fantasies laid out for me to watch and enjoy.
So I tried my hand at drawing up worlds of my own, a bit more intricate than my past scribbles. Being slightly older, I started putting words to my worlds, serious words—keeping record of the movies that played almost constantly behind tired eyes. They’d fall together, in vague semblances of coherence. They’d give shape to characters, dialogues. They’d imbue in my small hands a sense of power, something I was at a loss for in reality. And for however long, I’d immerse myself and play with my friends my allies my words.
Words were a foothold against the hurricane of early preadolescence. I would hold bouquets of dreams between little ears, given life by my hands, if only on paper. I’d create a role model, an alter ego, a nemesis. I’d take the things that scared me, make them a character beholden to my will, and fight back. In my head I had power. My notebooks were the exhibits.
My worlds collected nuance with age. I’d find myself trying to understand rather than vilify. I think watching and reading and writing has expanded and honed my empathy like little else. As a writer, you become every character, however shallow, one-dimensional, or wicked they may be. You try to find the anatomy of an emotion, the color, the flavor.
You learn there will always be beautiful things to do with words, even when you don’t have much to say. You can talk forever about nothing and, if you’re talented and practiced enough, make it beautiful.
Or on the days when you’re at your most charged and electric and genuine, you can hold a body’s worth of emotion in a tiny sentence, and make it say everything. Words are catharsis. Words are release.
I have to write because if I don’t I get down. Bummed. Overwhelmed. It’s just one of those natural, inexplicable drives that I have, and not everyone has it so I can’t expect everyone to understand. I have been through phases where I hate writing as much, if not more, than I love it. That’s probably in part due to my OCD, and in other part due to feeling like I’ve wasted my time. It’s easy to feel like you’re wasting your time when you write your heart out to little or no applause. When the validation just isn’t there. It’s not so much that you want to be the shallow archetype of “rich and famous”, but you want people to appreciate the results of your labor, the baring of your soul. There’s nothing shallow about that, in my opinion. And I understand.
Why did I write, then, back before I had a place to publish?
I guess...hope. It’s how I am—I have to have something to wake up for, something to chase after. To borrow a phrase from Nolan’s Joker, “I’m like a dog chasing cars; I wouldn’t know what to do if I caught one.” It’s the thrill of the chase. I’ve chased recognition since I was young, perhaps too young to even grasp what recognition truly was. All I knew was, whenever the teacher would let me read one of my stories to the class, whenever I’d get to share the thing that I wrote with another person—I don’t think you can really put *that* feeling into words, and I wanted more. Now I’m here and I have 586 followers and that’s amazing to me. But the aspirational side of me tells me to keep going. The day I stop chasing bigger cars is the day I stagnate, and that’s a bit too close to giving up for my tastes.
I found power in the words. I find life in the chase. And really, what more could you ask for?
I realized I was a writer when I was a senior in high school. I'm 43 now, and am just now taking it seriously. I could never find the courage to even try because I was afraid of rejection. It wasn't until last year that I realized I needed to be writing for me. While we all love to hear positive feedback on our creations, that should not be your focus. Your writing is a part of you, who you are. You should be writing for you, and you alone. Who cares what other people think? Find your courage!
“So We Can Learn to Pick Ourselves Up”
At first, it was a means to unburden my heart, to transmute sorrow into physical form. But soon, it changed into something different. Enamored with cartoons, video games, and anime, and having some minor skill with a pencil, I took to shaping tales of my own design. I tossed ideas around, doodled some doodles here and there, but that was about it.
For one reason or another, I just stopped doing it.
But then I discovered reading.
As I entered college at the tender age of 17, I found joy in reading books that weren't assigned to me. I feel in love with stories and words.
Inspired by Sir Conan Doyle, both the man and his work, I found myself writing again for no other reason than I wanted to try my hand at it. With all the bravado of a young writer, I submitted crude pieces to publications I had no business submitting to. The rejections were swift, and devastating, to my nascent writer's ego. In my mind, I equated "rejection" to "lack of quality." I put my pen down, chalking up the whole attempt to a momentary flight of fancy.
I continued to read anything and everything I got my hands on.
Unrequited, yes. But love nonetheless.
She loved stories and books.
I worked nights, at a place with ample free time. Inspired by The Hobbit, I wrote her a little tale and put it in with a birthday gift. Whether she really liked the story or not, I'll never really know. But her words of praise, the rush of joy they caused, were enough to encourage me to do it again.
By that point, my feelings were reaching a fever pitch. Unable to voice them, I chose, instead, to write them. And so, like it had begun so many years ago, I channelled the contents of my heart into my pen. I bought a little journal from Michael's, decorated it with ribbons and a lock, and, over the span of a year, wrote a series of short stories set in a mythical world like those of her beloved YA fantasy books. And at the very end...I confessed.
In retrospect, it was stupid. To put all that on her. I knew she didn't feel the same. I had hoped. But I knew otherwise. And yet, she loved the book. Maybe not its contents ( I'm not entirely sure she read all the stories, to be honest), but she loved the thoughtfulness of the gift. And really, that's all that mattered. The experience was incredibly fun. I loved crafting a world out of nothing. But as it turns out, she didn't really like short stories. She was a fan of novels. Well. What else was a lovelorned writer to do?
I wrote a book.
But as I finished it, and once again gifted it to her, I came to a realization: She may not actually read it. It was at that point that I asked a question that would change my life: If she isn't going to read it, maybe I should see if I could get it published so someone else can? That's where it began, the pursuit of writing as something more than a hobby.
Once upon a time, Sir Conan Doyle's words set me upon one career path. But by the time I reached the end of that arduous path, I had grown disillusioned with it. I wanted to leave the world better than I found it, as it were. I didn't feel I could do that on my current path. So I sought another, also inspired by Sir Conan Doyle's words.
Here I am, many years, and as many rejections, later. The rejections still sting as powerfully as they did at the beginning. But they no longer make me retreat.
Well, that's not exactly true.
Like a dog licking his wounds, I seek shelter after a rejection. I doubt myself. I throw pity parties sometimes. But eventually, I come out of my hidding spot. And I do it all over again.
There isn't much I can do, in my day to day life, to help others. To improve the world. All I have is the hope that, one day, I can write something that will inspire others to do good. All I have is the hope that my stories can inspire people to be brave. All I have is the hope that my stories can give people a much needed respite from their daily struggles. All I have is the hope that my stories can do for others what the tales of my favorite authors have done for me.
So I keep going. And I keep stumbling.
In those moments, when I fall, and I fell like I can't get up, I think back to a movie that holds a special place in my heart. I think back to a line which beautifully encapsulates one of favorite aspects of one of my favorite characters. In those dark moments, when I feel like my dream of seeing my name on a book on a shelf will never come to pass, I take a second to remember:
"Why Do We Fall?"
I love 2 Write
I love to write because it takes my mind to a place of stories, miracles, mystery, enchantment, misery, joy, hatred, fascination, question, education, and intrigue.
My mind contols the output, and no one else.
Your story is built on what you see and what you believe. While you write, you're releasing an anger or an emotion that has trembled inside your mind with every waking moment. To surface it to a pen, puts you in control of it's appearance. The way you write your emotions on paper give you the option of keeping it personal or drawing in another mind to capture the output as you saw it. You reading this far symbolizes the effort I used to intrigue the output. I love to write.
Writing is purely an art of instruction.
I’ve never dreamt of winning awards
or increasing my audience.
I don’t care if anyone reads my words.
Rejection motivates me.
Tough critism improves me.
Never give out your email address to strangers.
Dream Catchers and Storytellers
At first, it was depression. Holding on to a pen rather than a blade and keeping my mind going. Sad stories flowing out like tears on my pillow. Before I wrote, I sat in my room alone, narrating stories to my stuffed animals. I didn't have many friends until I look back at the people in the photo album of my memories. I was never the kid going to sleepovers or hanging out on the weekends with friends or excitedly hanging out friendship bracelets to my friends. I played alone and worried too much and spent an embarrassing amount of time staring at the sun because people told me I shouldn't. I liked to read and decided in third grade that all I could do with my life was tell stories.
The first story I wrote successfully was about a girl helping her brother's mail-order bride and her sister escape her brother's abuse after she finds out that her sister-in-law is pregnant and couldn't bring herself to get an abortion. I weaved together 50,000 words, ut the final period on it, and deleted the whole thing. It was disjointed trash. The story followed me for years, lying in bed and staring at me. It wasn't the right story, but I wanted to tell the stories of those girls. Ohio has the highest rate of sex trafficking in the country. I didn't know that until I escaped this damn country, and my father took to giving me updates.
I got into history a year after I came back from England. Missing the opportunity to hoard English history books is one of my biggest regrets. I sit every night for weeks on end typing out names and dates and events. A long list in blue cursive sits next to me. The last page only has the tail-ends of my findings. Emile Berliner. Irene Manning. Bob Hope. Joe Weber. Lew Fields. Jason Gould. Oscar Hammerstein. William H. West. George H. Cohan. Sam Shubert. Mitzi Gaynor. Lola Mendez. Rowena Granice Steele. Frank Furness. Yvonne De Carlo. I realized that history can be accurate without leaving people out. But we don't. I never understood why. I never understood anything. That why I started writing.
Writing and biology have so much in common. It's all just questions. How can communism work? Why do color tattoos not work on dark skin? Can there be a love story that you can't predict before it even begins? Why are they pushing this vaccine so hard? What made Stalin so mad? Were his shoes too tight? Can you stretch shoes that are too small? Can you unflatten pop? I jot questions down instead of paying attention to the lessons I have to take. School was never my thing, but I never had a chance to say that. I liked to learn and could still relatively still and be relatively quiet so I wasn't a problem. I guess I like to write because I can say and do whatever the hell I want. I write the stories that eight-year-old me wanted to see and ask the questions sixteen-year-old me wanted answered and funnel those damn emotions suffocating eleven-year-old me.
To any inspiring writer, I would recommend you to say and do whatever the hell you want in your writing. Though (as all my professors have come to learn), once you unleash who you want to be on paper, no one will be able to hold you back or stifle you.
Mopping Up Eggs
In March 2020, I wrote about how I had one more month of Covid-19 to get through before it could all go back to normal. I was wrong. In a long short, autobiographical piece to become typical of me, in April of 2020 I wrote my first piece for Prose in three years. I pressed publish, hoping beyond hope my pain would be recognized by the internet.
March 2020 was a weird month. Fresh out of a psych unit, broken-hearted, and having quit my job (the first day Covid hit the west coast - Seattle - and I thought, whatever, that's like forever from here, what can happen?) I was rather desolate. My sister had cut ties with me, I had no one but myself and a computer screen.
I wrote a poem about cracking eggs against my frying pan and missing, too drunk to care. My roommate, the only other person I was to have contact with for the next three months, asked: "Do you really only have eggs and champagne in our fridge?"
The answer was yes, and not only was I not ashamed, I wrote about it.
And I started getting published.
This is a flash-forward to 2021. So far this year, I've had three pieces of mine published by various magazines. The are short prose link this. And every time I get published, I think: I've shared too much with the world.
I wrote about my sister, and she didn't even care. I sent her a piece I had published, one where I tore our family to shreds. She didn't blink. Or, at least, through the phone it didn't seem like she did. She said, "You know what? When Kim Kardashian wears a million dollar coat, it catches everyone's attention. She's making a statement."
I'm still thinking that one over.
Why do I write? I write because, as Charlie Sheen says on Two and a Half Men, "There are things inside of me I need to kill."
He actually says that while hugging a toilet on the show, drunk and throwing up, but I digress. Perhaps it's even more relevant to me, then.
I write because the things inside of me I need to kill need names written in ink. I plaster my emotions in print, feeling the weight of it all evaporate.
Even if, only after I write, I stop to consider who my writing could potentially hurt, I feel a freedom in that "publish" button. Who knows who will read my stories, who those people are?
If you've gotten this far, perhaps I've succeeded in at least planting a seed of something in you, and you'll take away from this something that makes you feel okay.
I write for myself. Whether to sort out my mood, tell stories I may forget or become warped in the mind; to see progress or regression in my writing. The point of view that is never seen by anyone other than me probably because it was only meant for me to see. Back then there was a drive however now I simply write because I choose to. It helps me so why not? If tough criticism, rejection, or doubt is present then accept it and remember you do it for yourself before anyone else.
Why a writer?
To be loved by a writer is to have your very soul shaken from your body like a coconut from a tree. The weight of their infatuation strips you bare, removes your armor layer-by-layer, and exposes your vulnerabilities for all to see.
Their devoted intensity, keening and focused, seemingly wears you down until you have no choice but to rebuild into the best version of yourself in order to match their idealistic perspective.
The world needs more writer-style love like this; brutally alive and awake and real.