From a young age, I knew I wanted to be a writer; I was a writer. Writing and story-telling came almost as naturally to me as breathing. I wrote everything down. Lists of everything and anything, words to songs I liked, even poems and stories and my own philosophical theories.
The other day I came across one of my four-year-old philosophical scribbles. My aunt had kept it safe in her diary for all these years, and hurled it out as ammunition for my 21st birthday party. The embarrassingly cute scrap of paper, messily scribbled in my just-learnt-to-write handwriting, contained quite profound views for a four-year-old on how freedom comes from self-acceptance (put in more plainer terms though), but more profoundly it held evidence of an innocent young mind trying to, through the medium of the written word, make sense of this conflicted world around her and where she fits into it.
I remember I was about seven years old when I was given a notebook with a picture of three kittens playing musical instruments on the cover. I looked at the picture, and I suddenly felt words forming inside me. I felt the beginning of a poem coming on — a story of these three cat-musicians. The words began jumping out at me from inside my head and all I could do was turn over the page and write and try to keep up with the pace of my tumbling thoughts.
It was like those games in arcades and the kiddies play areas in casinos where there’s a set of buttons and you have to hit the button that flashes, and it changes so fast and the other buttons start flashing and you’re literally just standing there pounding your fist in every direction, too afraid to miss a flash for fear you’ll lose the game.
That’s how I feel about writing. A million thoughts spiraling through my head at the speed of light, and I have to get every single thing down on paper, quickly, before it all disappears— because how do I know one of those thoughts; words; skeleton of an idea, that momentarily flickered through my mind, how do I know that when it’s exposed in the flesh, it won’t turn out to be one of the best thoughts I’ve ever thought? And if I don’t get it down on paper, before it fades away like a shooting star, who knows how long I’ll have to wait to see it again, if I ever do.
I guess that’s why Jack London imparted his pearl of wisdom to always keep a pen and notebook at hand:
I can also identify with Lord Byron when he said:
“If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.”
I am a writer, by default (and a lifetime of practicing that will only end when I die). I write because I have a million thoughts spinning inside my head and the only way to release them is to purge them out on paper. The veins of my thoughts are filled with thick dark ink and my being; my fingers wrapped around my pen is just a vessel to help me make sense of who I am, how I fit into this world, and most importantly to tell my story.
As my favourite author F. Scott Fitzgerald aptly put it:
“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.”
Ultimately, we all have something to say, we just use different mediums to portray it in different ways. Scientists, artists, writers, we all set out to discover the stars inside of us, and in the world around us. Some people, however, have a story but no voice, or they have a voice, but it’s not heard. Those people rely on others to relay their stories. And that’s also why I write.
Featured image: Jade le Roux