I can never seem to get over the dichotomy between wanting my voice to be heard, and risk revealing too much of myself when writing. They always seem to go hand-in-hand—but if I had it any other way, my voice will be heard without revealing too much of myself.
Perhaps this dilemma is subjective, because no two writers work the same way. Nevertheless, I believe all writers write from what they know—even fiction writers. Their writing may not be real, but these writers create from within themselves. These little snippets of inspiration are then morphed and manipulated to take on multiple disguises, but once you peel back the layers of final product—the final story—you will find that the story is just a manifestation of fragments of the writer’s life.
As Sylvia Plath, one of my literary heroes aptly put: “I write only because there is a voice within me that will not be still.” In order to unpack this “writer’s quagmire,” it is essential to revisit my motivations for writing. I primarily write to make better sense of the jumble of thoughts in my head. When the thoughts come they always come thunderously, ricocheting off the walls of my brain, absorbing the energy off each other, beating violently on the walls of my head. These thoughts then translate to overwhelming emotions that I cannot seem to get past. I often tremble ever so slightly—I may be imagining this (but what is real?)—while I open a word document or pen and paper and attempt to translate these thoughts and feelings into words.
I believe I do not control when and how often I write. Life events have been a central source of inspiration, but anything can set me off scrambling for something to record my thoughts on. There have been many times when I let these thoughts and emotions slide, allowing the fire to ebb away because I was too lazy to transfer my thoughts to words. I always regret such incidences. Major emotional episodes are another great source of inspiration for my writing. While I sometimes wish I felt less, because that way, I wouldn’t have to deal with such overpowering thoughts and feelings and work at rationally making sense of them—I believe writing will probably not be a part of me if I actually felt less and experienced emotions any way else.
The irony is that by ruminating about this problem, I am revealing too much of myself again. But I do not know any other way to let my voice be heard. In the process of letting my voice be heard, I am setting up my vulnerabilities to be open for others to ridicule, manipulate and destroy. Why do I still do this? I don’t think anyone can have a great experience without risking something. If we all protected ourselves by building impenetrable walls around us, in fear of being hurt in our relationships, when we are all born social beings, our hardened hearts will know no love, no pain, no faith, no hope, no laughter. There will be many people who will step all over our trust, who will take our vulnerabilities and display them out in the open, manipulating them and destroying us in the process.
But there will be the select few who will take our trust and tuck it most carefully and neatly away in their hearts, guarding it with all their might, allowing no one to take advantage of it. They will take our trust and build kingdoms out of it, with you. When you encounter these people, you know you have come across pure gold. These people make all of the past worth it. Similarly, when I reveal too much about myself through my writing, I do so in hopes that somewhere, someday, there will be someone who will be touched by my thoughts and feelings—someone who will take what they see and shield it away from prying eyes who only judge and do not understand. Even if I may never know who this person is, who these people are, and even though I may never know if this will even take place, the mere hope of it is enough for me.
All content © Carissa Tham 2017