Stories are fragments of humanity deciphered and illuminated by the author. Were they merely the regurgitated plots and archetypes of centuries of literature, we would never bother reading them, let alone sigh when they grant us resolution. The best stories don’t aim merely to entertain, but to share reality in the author’s particular manner, to touch you with the hopes of changing you for the better, or at the very least, make you experience something incredible.
Compared to other artistic mediums, writers are perhaps the most vulnerable. Their thoughts are put on direct display, each phrase prepared to be dissected. They may be disguised within fictitious occurrences, but all the same, the act of writing is that of coaxing, drawing close to the reader, then confessing, revealing, divulging.
“But who am I to share my perspective?” is often the timid voice that arises in writers. More often than not, we are shameless messes. Life is too chaotic to be lived consistently, and if some semblance of consistency begins to appear, it is often joined with its companion: monotony. Yet, the chaos that makes life interesting often leaves us wounded, or at least confused. Essentially, we are given two options: to persist in monotony for the sake of comfort, bleeding life of its color, or to surrender ourselves to the storms in hopes of learning to thrive in them.
When we step into the cadence of this dance, we are presented with obstacles of what exactly it is we want to show and how. The process of living while crafting becomes a duality of learning to create art both for ourselves but also for an audience. Since so much of our art is born out of a desire to understand ourselves better, or to overcome turmoil, it creates a dilemma.
If we were to write merely with the intent of revealing to an audience, our creations would lose out on the purity of self-actualization through introspection. We can still learn, grow, and come to grips with ourselves as we grind out novels, but there is a crucial essence to the words which we refuse to show others, ones better kept in journals. They create the basis for the philosophies and perspectives that eventually bleed through the writing we do share. By sequestering parts of ourselves away from the world and allowing them enough solitude to ferment, the pieces that we do intend to reveal become that much more richer for the foundation beneath them.
A mastery in revealing ourselves systematically is about fine-tuning the intricacies of our philosophies and truths, instead of demonstrating the viciousness of finding them, which can often result in achey poetry or messy writing that is as confused as we were when we first stumbled across them.
So much of the romance behind writing is that it entails, occasionally, reaching a place in our minds in which imagination, wisdom, and intellect meet at an ethereal point. Here, we produce our absolute best, unperturbed by the shadow of logical thought or a sense of the rational. Briefly, we are immortal.
Experiences provide the substance that we draw art from, while our ability to utilize them comes from our unique ways of processing. Memory with meaning gives a guiding hand of purpose to write with, while physical images afford superficial and surface details that support dimension. By processing our pasts and ourselves amidst them, we are able to find the true reasons for why we write, and just as importantly, the insights behind our symbolism.
If we are to craft incredible stories consistently, we would do well to remember to write our own tale first. Journals, sketchbooks, and the exploration of the self are the preludes to the art that is displayed for everyone, their evocative depictions bolstered by the intensity of the artist’s drive to understand and question, even if nobody is watching.
There is nothing wrong with showing others our deepest, most raw creations. Rather, it is about recognizing that so much of an author’s genius comes from those thoughts that she writes in her journal at the end of the day. The long stints of introspection that, when repurposed artfully in fiction, can transcend beyond that rawness to stories surpassing the initial spark of inspiration.
It is easy to forget that we are living for ourselves, not our obligations or our success. We are living for the human experience, for our deepest understanding of it, striving to recognize each day as wholesome and precious. Self-reflection remains vital for personal actualization, and expression, a tool of survival amidst the growing pains; meanwhile the mastery of our craft becomes a powerful mechanism of harnessing and illustrating inner truths.
In essence, by taking time to write for ourselves first, we craft ourselves as a result, deepening the ravines within us that coax an audience to our depth. When we go forward to that place of knowing that we are being watched, we will do so with the inherent confidence that, indeed, we do have truths to share, and we have churned them over so many, countless times by ourselves that, by gods, it will evident to the reader that each syllable was considered. The soul will seep through the work, not because you ran to the page in a panic of expression, but because you first comforted yourself by dominating the challenge. As a result, the readers will feel both the empathy of your suffering, but also the wisdom you garnered as a result of smashing it silly.
They will listen because you, first and foremost, took time to listen to yourself. Whatever pours out will do so with a strength matched by finesse, a result of strenuous, skillful digging for what was to be gained from our experiences. What was beautiful, what was torturous, and what made us feel so human just by living through it, and writing about it once more … again and again.