I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of. ― Joss Whedon
Writing is exhausting. Writing hurts. Writing is a disappointment and a joy all at once. Writing is bleeding, sweating, crying, aching. And it’s so beautiful.
Writing has been a heavy burden for me of late, one that I’ve had to consciously set down and walk away from for a time. Perhaps my anxiety was just getting the best of me, bleeding me dry. Perhaps I was simply out of words. Or more likely, I was afraid of my own words. I do not know for certain.
But I do know that I burned and yearned to write, and I am crawling back. The process has been painful. Wrenching, even. I can’t quite explain it.
It was like locking a part of me away. But writing had ceased to be a joy to me, and I was letting the disappointment of writing get the best of me. My words always felt so forced and false. I was trying so hard to be a good writer that I could hardly even write, and I was going mad.
I wanted to be great. I wanted recognition. I wanted wows and whoas and oohs and ahhs. I wanted attention. I wanted acknowledgement. I daresay I needed it.
The year after graduating and getting married was a difficult one for me, and any and all sense of self and confidence was slowly draining. I desperately needed someone to tell me I was good enough, that my words were powerful and poignant. And with every piece of positive feedback I would receive, I’d start building myself, putting together who I thought I was in light of what and who people said I was.
And you know what happens after that? When you start defining your worth according to other people’s opinions, it’s only a matter of time before your identity is washed away by the same. There will be that moment after you bleed your heart into a piece, and no one responds. No one praises you. No one is astounded or appreciated or touched or moved. And that will chip at you. It will eat at you. You’ll start to believe you are nothing.
Talk about painful and disappointing.
I don’t think I want to write for others anymore. At least, not for their praise.
As a child, I wrote because it transformed me and built me up and tore me down and rebirthed me and explained me and confused me. I wrote because the act of writing made me who I am. The process of writing was invigorating, the kind of suffering writing inflicted was addicting, and the words I penned pruned me, pricked me, prodded me. My own words defined me, not the words of others.
I’m so thankful and blessed to know that some of my words have echoed, that things that have burned through me have also burned through others. I am truly humbled and astounded by the warm responses I’ve received about my writing over the years. I will always carry those joys with me. But I can’t let them define me anymore.
I need to remember that who I am comes from the process, not the response. I am a writer whether anyone else can attest to that. I know because I write. I write terribly. I write well. But I always write.
I will write these words, and even if no one ever reads them, or if they fall flat, or if I never receive a syllable of praise, I still am who I am, and I’ve still written a part of myself into being. I am still a writer because I wrote, whether the words were grand or gross.
God, I pray I remember that.
No one else may ever say a word in response. But I write who I am, so there will be flat words and stupid words. There will be folly and catastrophe and pride and humility and anger and joy.
And there will be me and my words.