If Writing is All I Have

A personal essay


I’m a Japanese culture enthusiast. I enjoy reading books and watching movies in Japanese, becoming immersed in the beauty of Japanese language and philosophy. Recently, I read books about Zen philosophy that focuses on how we manage our daily lives.

The most notable message is about releasing ourselves to nature and the world. Like when you are young, nature and being natural was a part of your daily life. Perhaps when you were little, you loved to dance to music. You performed dancing as free as you could. But then as you grew up, you realized that others watched you. You became conscious and performed a dance to get the expected ‘reward’ — a pat on the back or positive comments. Zen is a practice to become child-like again, to free us from judgment and from the concern of being watched and evaluated. We can release ourselves without feeling restraint by external standards.

My writings are just so. Back when I was young, I wrote fiction and non-fiction pieces with absolutely no care whatsoever for the rules of writing. I merely imitated what I read and that’s all there was to it: writing was like reading. College rolled in and I understood about structures in essays and research essays. I took fiction-writing classes to polish my writing skills and now I’m taking a non-fiction class, curious about how to make a good essay and memoir. It is what I call making an effort — after all, we the writers care most about the improvement of the quality of our writing.

As of now, writing is like swimming. It is a conscious effort where I take a mental note on how far I will get — say 5,000 words just like 20 swimming laps. As I reflect upon the process, I realize that it is not a healthy process because it shows how little I enjoy it. I’m not in the zone and appreciate the little moments where I practice writing and swimming.

Japanese philosophy mentions that it is good to have something in our lives, no matter how trivial or strenuous it could be, to hold onto as a passion for life. If writing is all I have in the world, I’d like it to be a hobby rather than an enforced habit by practicing writing as many times as I can.