Thinking aloud about what writing means to me. Can be categorized as 2 AM thoughts, aka publishing what would otherwise be my personal diary.
Writing, fiction, has always felt special, liberating. The first time I remember writing a story - I only recently started calling it fiction - was perhaps in 1998! A school friend and I exchanged stories we’d written and read them while traveling on the bus together. I still remember her story and how it ended. I remember mine, too. I remember my friend’s surprise at my having written the story. Why the surprise, I wondered then and wonder now too.
I wonder why I write. And why I hesitate to share it with the world. Forget the world. Why do I hesitate to even reveal it to myself? As though writing a story, and following an idea to its conclusion is somehow shameful and that I'll be judged for it.
So I have stories, half-formed, on my computer. In the many notebooks, I love to collect and cherish. On tissues folded triangular. In the notes app on my phone. I’ve realized that when I don’t allow myself to write in my waking moments, my subconscious pushes me to write at that moment when I’m ready to lose myself to sleep. Or now, in the middle of the night, when words flow as though this is the purpose of my life.
Why then am I ready to give up on writing so easily and readily? I tell myself that writing is not really for me. That I’m not good at it. It’s a thought that has taken over the logical plot of my life. That I’m not good at anything I do - except love - and even that I’m terrible at these days. But terrible as I am, I can’t write unless I write well enough to win the Pulitzer. Such is the delusion that takes over me. I don't even know what makes something Pulitzer-worthy.
Writing for the heck of writing. Writing because I would otherwise be unable to breathe. Or sleep. Writing in sentences with 2 words. Because I can. Writing sentences that start with because, because I can. Writing. Because.
Writing makes me feel like I have something to say. It validates me. Gives me a reason to be, a voice. Even when there isn’t anyone listening to me or reading me. I realize no one would read me unless I actively share it with the world. As someone who’s worked in marketing, I, of all people should know everything, even a sanitary pad, needs marketing. And yet a part of me remains stubborn and arrogant and wants to be discovered and hailed as the next best thing. Which I know I’m not.
Years and years in marketing. None at all in writing. And yet in my heart and in my head I whisper - writer.
And as I write, I see my eagerness to diss myself. The negative self-talk that I know does me no favors. And yet there it is, ingrained in me just as powerfully as the social conditioning to smile brightly at the neighborhood aunty.
Writing is happiness. Writing brings a solace I find in hardly anything else. Writing has been therapy, a way to know what’s what.
For all the talk of writing, reading came first. Reading was. And reading is. It gave way to imagination. Or maybe it helped my imaginative self find a home. Words have always been a balm, an escape, a prayer. From comics to Noddy and teen detective series to Sidney Sheldon. I don’t remember much of what happened in between. But then I discovered Murakami and much later, Sally Rooney. How can I forget Harry Potter and LOTR and Gone with the Wind?
Lately, I’ve found a huge affinity with Asian writers. The world they weave is a world I’ve made a home in. There's that intangible, unquantifiable aspect to their writing that makes reading wholly pleasurable. Quotes I have highlighted mentally and therefore lost forever. But then, these are works I'd read at least once more: Winter in Sokcho, Kitchen, and Dear Friend, from my life I write to you in your life, are the most recent ones that I'm fangirling about.
I've read that writers began as readers. If I wouldn't read, I don't know who I would be today. At my last physical therapy session, my therapist wanted to distract me during a painful procedure. So, she asked me to talk about books I've recently read. I was surprised at the eagerness and enthusiasm in my voice. I still find that funny.
Can one talk books and not mention the happiness of visiting a bookstore? In Bangalore, it was always Blossoms Bookstore. Here, I loved visiting Dog Eared Books in SF. Being in the presence of books is magical. I can spend hours at a time browsing books.
And that's that! I leave you with a book cover that fascinated me.