It’s astounding how one word can carry so many implications. By putting words on a page, you’re weaving a narrative. You’re laying out your heart and soul. You’re declaring, “This is my story--- nobody else’s”, and you’re sticking to that.
In my opinion, being an author is unique to other artistic pursuits. We pull from a vast storehouse of words and memories and images while we’re writing. Every word conceivable is linked to an idea which has been stored in our neurons, condensed into the tiny space we like to call a brain. We will not be able to recall where all the words came from. To write is a highly subconscious process.
The word ‘write’ implies that you are actively doing something. That’s not what writing is all about. You are actually a passive observer. If you are to write, you must be vigilant. After all, you are the sole eyewitness of every story you write. Each character has been crafted exquisitely by your own hand and will come to life right before your eyes. You are Victor Frankenstein, and you have created life. Take good care of it. Mr. Frankenstein did not perform so well in that regard.
99% of writing is collecting data. We must be observant. Analyze the world. As Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living”. Be a dreamer and take in all the sights of the world. If you want to write, you must also be willing to live. You cannot sit inside a hamster ball. Read about the stars and poison and types of flowers. Or don’t read about them; make them up. Your brain can travel the world for you. If reality is an illusion, then the imagination is surely as real as reality.
Write because there is a daemon in your chest. It lurks there like a spectre, haunting you until you set it free. It scratches and claws at your ribcage, begging that you take a quill and open yourself up to the world. Carry out its bidding. Unleash your horrid, nasty, abominable daemon onto the world. They can take it, I assure you.
Who are you? What do you hope to achieve?
A fragile, Narcissistic piece of your soul wishes to become a god, and the Machiavellian in your soul says he can make that happen. He tells you that you are good because you write, and that this practice will elevate you above others. But that is not why you write, is it? You fear the Narcissist and the Machiavellian. They aren’t at the heart of your creative drive though. They exist for a different reason. They corrupt your brain matter into a form translatable by reality; they churn up the waters that lie deep inside your soul, and they drag wretched ‘words’ out from behind your lips. You won’t become god because of it, but you will feel very good--- and very miserable.
To write is to be turbulent. Your head will buzz with infinite conundrums faced by an infinity of characters from whom you will never fully detach. They will play rough. They will bustle inside your brain as if there were no walls, as if you could not possibly crack from the pressure. But you most certainly can. We writers trap ourselves in a loop: we write because we cannot breathe without it, and we fail to breathe because of what it takes us to write. There is a constant, inescapable monologue inside your head--- beautiful, beautiful ideas matched by a faceless dread. The dread hungers, and it will never be satiated by your words.
It’s beautiful anyway.
In my darkest time, I wrote. It drove me mad. My words spun before me, a monument to my mental deterioration. Plainly I could see the insanity of it all, and the senselessness. I could see how pointless it was to care, but I cared anyway--- and I’ll never stop caring.
I’ve read and heard a lot about stoicism. It’s so fascinating to me because I’ll never quite be there. I’m a writer; that means my youth never really manifested. I remember one sleepover I went to: while the other kids had a pillow fight, I meandered in my own head, pencil in hand, and I wrote a story involving death. I called it ‘A Rebel in Blue’, and it was about hope in spite of the inevitable. I don’t know why I didn’t play with the other kids that day. Someone even came up to me and, with a look of great concern (which, at the time, puzzled me), asked, “Are you okay?” I don’t remember what I said. Maybe “yes”. I’ll never know for sure.
The appeal of simple joys didn’t reach me then. It has reached me now, but I’ll never get to live through it the same way they did that day. I do want to have a pillow fight someday. Maybe I won’t even enjoy it. I don’t care. In the end, the little things are what matter, and sometimes writing is just too large for humanity’s own good.
I’ve made writing seem grander than it really is. Frankly, it’s a simple process. You sit down and you create words. It’s only the inner desire for meaning that has driven me to weave such a grandiose description. Writers induce all this discord upon themselves. I think the daemon inside us isn’t even real by conventional standards of ‘realness’, but it’s real to the imagination. We are our own daemons, which is why we occasionally have to give them air. Maybe the artistic people are the ones with the most vile daemons; after all, we open ourselves up more.
When I use so many nasty adjectives, that paints your daemon in a pretty negative light. They might object to that. I certainly would object to what I have said. I don’t believe in good or evil, or really any absolutes. What I do think is that your demon really is so orthodox as to be a social disaster. It’s not socially appropriate to talk about death, or suicide, or drugs, or sex in public. Your demon is a manifestation of those ‘darker’ sides of you. It’s not evil--- just a natural force, condemned by society. Anything that does not directly benefit society as a whole is viewed as evil.
Most people like to think we are not barbarians. I fall under this category. I believe writing makes me seem sophisticated, and it does. I’ve been labeled that more times than I can recall. However, it’s an amusingly primitive behavior. The desire for self-expression, one could argue, has been with us since the beginning of mankind. So buckle up, poets--- you’re acting on an instinct that motivated cavemen to create paintings. We often hope that by writing, we can make sense of the world. Words are so uncomplicated. They can be analyzed without much contradiction. There is no realm of knowledge that hovers consistently beyond our reach, spewing questions like “What’s at the bottom of the ocean? Are we alone in the world? Where do we go after we get sucked into a black hole? Why do we exist? What does it all mean?” In writing, there is no eternal human struggle against the Absurd.
That’s it--- the Absurd. That is the bane of my existence. It is the universe’s cold shoulder to us all. It is the lack of profundity, the lack of order, the lack of compassion. It is the absence of explanation. I write to create a world where (by the will of the Narcissist) I am the universe. A world where my Machiavellian can laugh hollowly at my cardboard characters as I set them up against odds that are unbeatable. A world where I hold all the cards, and I can play them exactly how I like. A world where I know when and why everything began, and I know when and why everything will end. A world where I understand that once everything began, it was bound to end--- just as how we, by being born, have already died.
The truth of this world is that we always have and always will fight against the Absurd. I don’t seek to change that fact. The Absurd is the great antagonist of humanity. Life, however, is not a story written by mankind; we do not have to beat the universe into pulp to claim victory. We find solace in the existence of our unseen enemy. We find meaning in a lack of meaning. Albert Camus, the mind behind Absurdism, said, “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” I believe that if we did know all there is to know about the world, then there would be nothing to write about. We would not write at all. We would have no reason to. Thus, I cherish the conflict between humanity and the universe.
One dream of mine is to understand mankind. I don’t need to know how life began, or whether there’s a cure for cancer, or how big the universe truly is. I do, however, need to know the human mind operates. I want to learn why we dream and where consciousness came from. I channel my own mind into writing as if it will help me understand myself. Perhaps it does help, but oftentimes it muddles up the picture. I say things I do not mean, and there are things I mean that I do not say. My words are good for expression, but not for accuracy. I guess that’s the eternal plight of a writer. We know we are biased, and we know we are very, terribly wrong about everything, but we write anyway.
So write because you’ll never be right and you don’t care at all. Write because of the daemon in your chest. Write because words are your oxygen. Write because you love it. Write because you have to. Just write. It’ll keep you afloat when you think you’ve almost drowned.