A few hours ago Chuck Palahniuk shared this on his Facebook page:
“What is the issue that is eating you up? What is the personal fear that you can’t resolve and you can’t tolerate? Are you getting old with fucking NOTHING to show for it? Then, write Invisible Monsters. Are you worried that your brain or talent isn’t capable of creating anything interesting or unique, and you’ll die and rot and be forgotten – failing everyone you love? Well, then write Diary. My point is, use the story to explore and exhaust an issue of your own. Otherwise, you’re just dicking around, playing “let’s pretend.” If you can be ruthless and honest about your own fear, you express something that other people can’t express. You can resolve your own anxiety – through research, discussion, experiment – and that freedom is what brings you back to writing.
What could you never talk about in a million years? Then, write about that.”
I agree with everything he said.
In a way, I always find it funny when people tell me that in order to be a writer, you need a vivid imagination. Or drugs. Or both. But the truth is, that you don’t.
Then there’s this simple question: Why do we write? And why do we feel at times that only the written word can express our deepest fears and emotions, our love and pain and hatred; basically everything we can’t speak out loud.
Truth be told, writing is a liberating experience. It’s like shouting in a crowded place. It’s a way of attracting attention.
In real life, I don’t really like to tackle philosophical issues very often. Actually, I don’t like to talk too much about life, money, love, and other important issues such as the physical impossibility of death in the mind of someone living. More so, I usually make fun of those issues.
Why do I do that?
Maybe because I’m shy, and that’s why I’m a writer in the first place. Or maybe because I know that the written word has a better chance of surviving the cruel passage of time. I’m not sure, but I know that most of the times, in real life, I do my best to act as shallow as possible. Serious conversations kind of bore me.
I just listen. I smile and nod and act like I’m interested in what everyone’s saying, and then I go home. I go home and I start to write. That’s when everything changes. Because I write about what I love or loved once, about what I hate, what I’m afraid of, what I’d like to see changed in this world. I write about ambition and passion and courage and pain, and there’s nothing for me to be afraid of.
Not the people I shamelessly turn into characters, not the real tragedies that I turn into words… because the same thing I do to myself. Every experience, every kiss, every heartbeat gets dissected countless times. Some of them find their way in my stories. And that’s a very painful process.
A lot of writers out there, if asked, will say that writing isn’t easy. But it’s not because of the rules you have to obey, or the conventions, or the need of a vivid imagination. Writing isn’t easy because you have to relieve the most painful moments of your life, over and over again, and then you have to write them down, hoping that they’ll matter to someone else other than yourself.