Long before I knew what stories I wish to tell, I knew that I want to be a storyteller. I have always been a reader who loses herself in worlds made of ink and imagination, and deep in my bones is a longing to let others experience the same thing with my own creations.
I wrote poems. I wrote prose. I still do. When I was just beginning to understand what it meant to have the ability to put something out there, to let others see what I made, a certain kind of thrill filled my veins, and I knew that it was something I never wanted to tire of. I knew, though what I had produced were mediocre and hardly worth a second glance, that I would never stop striving to be better so that the words that keep bubbling beneath my skin could earn the right to be written and read.
There is something liberating in letting the words fall, for it is a process of surrendering oneself to the inevitable. There’s a saying: “Write drunk. Edit sober.” It was wrongly attributed to Ernest Hemingway, probably because he was a known drunk. Regardless of the quote’s source, however, it is, to an extent, sound advice. Alcohol, “that rose-colored glasses of life” (Fitzgerald’s description), can indeed help in unlocking everything we keep hidden. It unleashes inhibitions; it doesn’t give a crap about control, and the best works are those born of the loss of control, for it is then that human beings are the most honest. It is then that their hearts are bared, with all the beautiful flaws. It is then that the real meets the imagined, and it is a most magical union.
(Keep in mind that you should drink at your own risk. Alcohol might aid creativity, but it can also cause a lot of misery.)
When the real world proves to be too much—too stressful, too grim, too desolate—I turn to literature. I turn to the arts. When even supposedly relaxing things—TV shows, for instance—become a horrid reflection of reality, I turn my attention to more satisfying alternatives. I take to reading and, eventually, writing fan fiction.
Manipulating canon material (canon generally refers to everything released officially by the shows, films, etc.) to suit what I want to see proves to be a gratifying exercise. Since fandoms are, for the most part, active in their communities, I receive reviews and critiques that help me develop and improve my style, influencing not only my fan fiction work but my other works as well.
It is not all fun and games, though, for there are also times when it feels like the words are locked within, growling and snarling, scratching up my throat until I taste their bitterness. Though I try to let them flow, something staunches them; I put my pen to paper, my fingers on a keyboard, and I end up with a wide chasm of nothingness instead of constellations and galaxies. Those are the worst days.
Those are the days when I want to wallow in my despair and I question everything—my decisions, my aspirations, my dreams. I second-guess myself, and I often find myself lacking. That is the biggest hurdle, isn’t it?
Self-doubt. Self-blame. Self-hate.
But in the end, I know I have to power through, because if I won’t believe in myself, then who will?
So I keep on writing. On spewing forth words suppressed within, imbued as they are with vitriol and distrust. I know I have to try. Stephen King once said, “Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard either emotionally or imaginatively is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing to do is shovel shit from a sitting position.”
I have to move past my insecurities. I know I’m not the best, but that doesn’t mean I’m not worth it. For in every person, there’s a story worth telling, and I know mine is just beginning.