so why do I still do it?
I’d like to make a confession. I don’t like writing. It seems all too pretentious in retrospect, time wasted on saying something someone else would have said much better (and probably already has). Editing is boring and frustrating. If I try to write and then edit something on paper it just becomes a blob of ink, one word indistinguishable from the next, handwriting too small to ever read without a microscope. A computer might seem like a better alternative, but at the end of the day when I go over my notes, frustration mounting, I will most likely delete everything, just because it’s so easy to admit I will never reach perfection. Writing sucks. So why do I still do it?
Because it helps me understand who I am? But I already thought I knew who I was at the age of 13, when I first started writing short fantasy-oriented stories, posting them on a fan-fiction website. Sometime later I re-read them and, to my horror, realized that everything I have written there was utterly dreadful. I still have some of those stories on a hard drive somewhere, and at times when my pride gets the better of me I pull them up on my laptop and go over them to remind myself just how mistaken I can be about the quality of anything I create.
Why then? Because it helps me pass the time? But I have so little of it, and writing only makes me compromise on other things, like studying or sleeping. Writing takes forever and editing takes even longer. In fact, this article will probably be edited at least 3 times before you see it. And. It. Will. Still. Suck.
But here it is. I’m still writing. I’m not expecting to get popular, and, in fact, I’m not sure I even want to. I used to own a LiveJournal account (remember those?) where I used to write for about a year-and-a-half before finally quitting. Only about 20 people were listed as my followers, and probably not even a half of them ever read anything I’ve ever posted there. But I still felt constrained to write things in a very specific format and about very specific things. I wanted to please those people, always being afraid to dissapoint them if I switched to a different style of writing. However self-contradictary it might sound, I only ever felt able to breathe freely in a complete vacuum. Writing things I cared about at a rate I chose was only easy while no one was there to read them.
Perhaps it is a coincidence, but even my future career choice reflects my views on writing. For all my life I’ve been dreaming of becoming a history professor at some obscure university. Instead I chose engineering, which is probably as far away from history as you can imagine.
But every time I try to walk away from it, the urge to write just starts to build up until I can’t take it any longer. Some time ago I’ve been walking around the neighbourhood, enjoying the fair weather, when I noticed a piece of chalk lying on the ground. A couple of kids were drawing on pavement, and a substantial piece of blue chalk was left behind as a result, presenting me with a rare opportunity to express myself after a few weeks worth of creative drought. The next morning the neighbourhood’s sidewalks were covered in inspirational quotes, secret messages and drawings. (if the owner of that piece of chalk is reading this right now, I’m ready to offer full compensation, it was truly worth it). Chalk drawing might not be a perfect medium for everyone, but it was for me that day. I’ve never felt as good about anything I’ve ever created than when I watched a couple walk by one of my inspirational quotes on the ground, read it, and smile. I’ve been finally able to reach someone.
In two days it rained and everything was gone, every single drawing, every single word. But I knew what I wanted to do from that moment on. To create things that other people can see and smile at, things that will make people feel better, things that people can reflect on. I want to be someone who can help someone else realize themselves.
And this is why I’m writing now. Not to pass the time and not to help me understand what kind of person I am. It is to inspire others to express themselves. I might suck at that, but you might be better. And if you suck, well, then there’ll be two of us.