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author | writer
Eyes See What I See
Lips Who Am I?
Ear Find My Work
What’s Your Mood? What’s Your Mood?
CONNECT Talk to Me
Pen Full

 

I find it odd that the first thing people ask you when you tell them you’re a writer is what you’re writing or have written that they can read (and I start by saying, ‘read my face,’ because the question is, in fact, rickety)—but they never ask why you write. Those who do ask are often lightly inebriated, and it makes me wonder, hence, if I am always intoxicated because I now more than frequently tend to wonder why I write, especially while I am doing it.

Like any story, the answer to why I write has a beginning too. 

And, quite frankly, the beginning of it I don’t remember. I was all of nine-years-old when I put pink ink (Pablo Neruda’s green pen inverted on its head) to a Hello Kitty notebook I’d bought in Bangkok and I penned the words ‘Smile’ at the top neatly, in cursive, touching the edges but staying in-between the lines like I’d been taught. I then proceeded to record all the colors, shapes, sounds and smells in which I’d come across a smile, or smiling—the action, the gesture, the intention, the sense. 

Ah, the senses. Either I’m in them, or they are in me. Synecdochal synonyms. It doesn’t matter if that makes no sense. 

So, my first memory of writing is sensory. It outlines itself in my temporal lobes like dusted sugar on a carrot cake through which I might run my finger, leaving further traces in already-made traces. In this case I remember what clearly, not why

I was not intoxicated then, perhaps. It was narcissism that took hold of me by the head and throat, enveloping my chakras of expression, and everything I wrote henceforth became about me—what I saw, what I heard, what I dreamed and what I felt—in so deeply enriching a manner I could not actually write anything (Roland Barthes knows). More whats; still no whys.

Then, once, I stopped the confessions and constructed my first real story at fifteen. A terrible story, about two star-crossed lovers separated by a desert still less dry than their own hearts and characters. But unlike Zeus who split the androgynous man in two, I had no reason to fear these characters. Their eyes did not sparkle like the dolls in my room did, illuminated by the blue light of the fan’s ‘on’ switch. I had no reason to fear them because they seemed to resemble me, and what I felt from looking at them was the mild discomfort of one who only stares into a mirror for too long. 

I started to wait for this shift of weight, this cryptoamnesia sort of release that made me feel like I’d expanded, exploded, and had no mess to clean up. 

It’s when I couldn’t write that I asked myself why I ever had, or felt I still needed to. When I did write, it was automatic. When I didn’t, something was wrong. Something breathing its own breaths that were different from mine clawed and ached and begged to come out, and when I didn’t listen, I, silly, naïve, simply called them emotions.

Before I wrote my first book I knew fear; after, courage. When I’ll continue to write through my life, it will be to deepen this courage. I don’t fear what I have to say, or why I must say anything instead of nothing, rather how much. Even if everything that must be said has already been said, I’m amazed how many million times I’m willing to try again. 

To be a good writer, one must be a good reader—of the world, of ourselves in the world, of others’ writing, and most importantly, of our own. I find that’s the hardest part. Reading back the words I write in my own voice, to myself, I sound fractally disturbed, like glasses filled with varying depths of water tapped gently with a steel limb, and I realize it’s the separation between the noises that hurts. The separation hurts just as much as the swelling, when all the parts of me that breathe their own breaths tumble and toss around each other. I have headaches, and stomachaches, and heartaches, and all that. Remembrance is startling, sure, because it’s a jolt to the senses to be in two places at once—but it’s perhaps better to be a ship lost at sea then buried under it. 

So, I write, sometimes in the despair that the words I do not choose feel left out, and while humbled by my narcissism, I know why. I know.