What we write about tells us who we are…


“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.” – Chuck Palahniuk

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, 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  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 stories… because the same thing I do to myself. Every experience, every kiss, every heartbeat gets dissected countless times. Some of them find their way into 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 for a vivid imagination. Writing isn’t easy because you have to relive 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.

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8 thoughts on “What we write about tells us who we are…

  1. Reblogged this on Cynthia Hilston – Author & Blogger and commented:
    For me, writing serves many functions. I sometimes write about my fears or things I won’t talk about with most people, but I often write to escape reality (much like how reading functions for me). Obviously, the reason a person writes varies depending on the individual.

    I find that most of my conversations are surface. Most people I encourage on a daily basis are just skimming that surface. I must feel a deeper connection with a person to discuss my fears, my ambitions, my loss, my love, my passion, etc. This is often with other writers, but not necessarily.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. “Writing isn’t easy because you have to relive 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.”

    A succinct and heartbreaking description of the art!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Why do we write? Because it gives voice to what’s inside of us, and that voice is begging to be heard.
    But what we do with what that voice has to say really depends on… what it says. Lol. Some want to be heard. Some want to be understood. We could write privately, or share it with the public…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This post is one of the best ones I’ve read in a while… I’ve often tried to search for prompts to awaken the creativity within me but reading this has made me see things from a different perspective and I have to thank you for that. A great post, Christian!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This spoke right to me.

    I’ve been writing for years off and on, but I haven’t put it out to any other audience besides FB and the ninth graders I teach.

    Recently, I’ve felt the nudge to put stuff out for others who are NOT my friends on FB or sitting in desks in front of me to see what that kind of freedom can do. So I started a blog. I suppose at some point I’ll share it with 770 of my closest friends over there on the Book, but not yet.

    Call it my midlife crisis; call it whatever. I’m not going to call it anything other than my next Thing. ;)

    Thank you for this post. That last paragraph is a killer.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I reread this post and instead of responding from the perspective of an unspecific collective, perhaps I will reveal why *I* write. I write to get out all that shit that I have inside of me. It let’s me get my crazy out. I constantly tear myself apart and rend myself to pieces, I psychoanalyze everything, constantly, subconsciously. I torture myself and I don’t always know why… I’m an English teacher, I have an bachelor degree in english text and writing, and a master degree in teaching. I know how to write, but I dont have any original idea to write. I cognitively understand the writing process and can intellectualize the process. But that removes the joy that writing brings. I can intellectualize the structure of stories and understand the role that they play in society. And the character arcs and narrative structure and the archetypal whatevers…. and because I do, I tend to just do that thing… I think about me. And my life and my own bullshit… and I see myself in the stories. I am the perpetual supporting character in other peoples lives, but in the story of my life? I’m the bullshit crazy person with voices in her head that arent really voices except inner voices… self voices… and blah blah blah, I’m the artist-scientist, who can come up with crazy grandiose schemas, that often miss the point. Creative yeah, but doesn’t really serve any purpose… I’m my own protagonist/antagonist. Whatever I try to do, subconsciously I prevent myself from ever succeeding. Because I’m just as strong whether I apply that towards creation/destruction, the hero or the villain…
    So I write poetry. But I dont really want to write poetry. Poetry is what is produced in the meantime. Poetry is a byproduct of the epic prose. My poetry is a by product of my suffering as i attempt to create something…
    I’m the fool. I play the fool in real life because I see my foolishness in my life narrative. The fool is safe because they can say and do whatever the fuck they want because they’re in the safety and protection of the court.
    And I cant believe that I’m just a supporting character in my own life story. And I hate that. I hate that is where I’m stuck.
    My life, the way I live my life, is as crazy and chaotic and inconsistent as the creative process. I’ve always done that. And it’s what I still do. And I cant get out of this damned loop. I’m the muse. I can inspire people to do whatever, they see me and talk to me, and then they see or hear or learn… something? That is helpful for them. That is useful for them. That means something special for them. And that’s fine. That’s what I do. But the muse? What does she get to keep? Who inspires her? What does she get to do? That’s me. I write a whole lot of bullshit. For a myriad of reasons. And its exhausting. And its defeatist. And its bullshit.

    Liked by 1 person

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