Word Affairs

How To Write?

How To Write?

I usually start off with a word and work out things from there. This is a silly question for someone who has spent her entire life wallowing in words. But it still remains a painful process – the constant etching and rearranging, the rebuilding and the breaking, the beginning and the leaving.

Back when I was eleven, when I first envisioned a 21-year-old me making her living out of writing, I thought, “Well, how difficult could it get?”

Writing was an unconscious process to me then. It was the only confident thing I did. Composition assignments were the best – I never even needed drafts. The words flowed as if on their own whim that I’d be tempted to assume they only needed me for my hands. Dammit, every sentence always felt right.

I miss that liberation. The ironic liberation of being free, yet also being bound to the same thing at the same time.

I cannot recall when writing became, to me, a difficult, even a scary task. Maybe last year – or perhaps when I stopped taking in things? When was that? And how did I get here?

Something has gone wrong with my eyes. The hues went undertoned, the sky turned bleak. I lost the possibility for a smile – one that was profusely fueled by ambition, by unknowing, by some sort of hope. Or maybe a promise? Not that I stopped dreaming or that I already know everything. I have different dreams now and I have learned things.

Or maybe I’ve become too uncertain (as you’ve noticed the abundance of maybes and perhapses in this essay).

Whatever it is that I lost, it kidnapped my muse. Now, I am always at lost with words; they ceased to be my friends. I am blindly scampering about – hands flailing, feet adrift, mind traipsed through a landscape without direction. Hell, it’s been years. Years of stripped up black-and-white and I call myself a writer.

I am not. I wanted to be but I am not. I wonder if I ever will be.

I am obsessed with calling things by their right names and so my own indistinction only commands my own tears. Maybe I’m just caught in the transient in-between to becoming one. Who’s to tell? Maybe this is the essential transition? The painful realization that things don’t always come as easily as they are imagined? Like any other form of art. Like how sculptures take form. Like how a sketch is materialized, how a painting comes about.

I weep at this emptiness. But maybe this is what it should feel like – as if words are shards of glass stuck deep into the soul and taking them out is a necessary pain. I never looked at it that way before. Ahh, the double edged-sword of a writer’s life, the not always knowing what to do; but also the not having the luxury of choosing.

So be it then. If bleeding is what it takes, I’ll befriend the knife.


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