For the Sake of Writing
by Julia Vaz, Staff Contributor
I am a weird type of perfectionist. I do not mind if my handwriting is unreadable or if I am missing a few ingredients for a cake. I can break the spines of books, annotate in the margins of illustrated editions, and watercolor even in a rush. Yet, when I sit in front of a keyboard, staring at the blank page and blinking cursor, my instinct is to only accept perfection and nothing else. I delete more than I write, second-guess every word choice, and give up at the first plotline I have trouble solving. Inspiration, that fleeting goddess, must be somewhere else today, I think while retreating to the safety of daydreams. My perfectionism towards writing is paralyzing because it is a pretty word for fears that are too human.
I have never written without the possibility of publication. I grew up inside libraries, and the passion for books, has deeper roots inside me than the passion for writing, no matter how tangled they are now. I am sure this is not unusual; we all have to know stories before creating them, but what pulled me towards the page was always the idea of seeing my name on a bookshelf, of becoming a voice inside someone else’s imaginative mind. Since I was ten, I have spent more time trying to come up with an original idea that could hit the shelves than actually writing. Every day, I conjure characters, dialogues, scenes, and worlds into existence. I feel their palpitations against my own heart, but, holding such vivid things to the light, it is easy to find flaws. The ritual always repeats itself: in the end, I leave them all to die.
My writing life has been a cemetery of never written stories. I have buried the scent of fig trees in the summer, the promises of parted lovers, ships on the verge of a thunderstorm, and letters addressed to the ephemeral. And I am tired. I can feel the strength to deny the problem leaving me and my feet heavier in the grass. I believe it is time I redefine what writing means to me before I become a grave myself.
Now, as I sit and, ironically, write this text, I attempt to remember that writing is a synonym for vulnerability. I try to create a space in which judgment and doubt are not yet welcomed into to. I let the pen do its job without attributing it the sanctity so often associated with it. I allow it to be an emissary for my storyteller. Not for the one with polished words and enough experience to declaim in royal balls, surrounded by pristine marble and ivory towers, but for the one sitting by the fire in the countryside. She does not rehearse, and the words flow out of her like the stream of the river in the background. She is raw, wild, and a part of the connection she weaves with each story. That is the girl I want to write for.
When I remove the what-ifs of the hallowed New York Times Bestseller author that receives constant praises and talks of high literature, what is left are memories more tangible than any future. Like holding snow globes, I analyze the moments of my past: the sentences on napkins, the ideas that claimed my nights, my small cousins sitting in a circle listening to my flawed stories and saying I was magical. When I remove the what-ifs, all that is left is me, vulnerably, starring at a blank page.
A new ritual begins to unfold. I romanticize the process instead of the final product. I allow myself to create something to be treasured because of its imperfections. Sipping tea, listening to the sound of the rain, surrounded by the unnamed feeling of a fluid existence, I create. I use cliches, misspell words, describe without plot. There is so much beauty in my soul-consuming passion for words. How have I stayed away for so long?
I will still stumble. I will still fear and doubt. Yet, if legacies are indeed fated to oblivion, I think I am ready to start worrying less about tomorrow and focusing on the moments I feel eternal. I guess what I am trying to say is: perhaps, the fleeting goddess was myself all along. I just needed the courage to adore her and let her work her miracles in peace.