Writing for a Living: My irony and curse

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After last night’s Writer’s Block Philippines workshop, we had a Networking Night with Tweet Sering, a writer and book author who had also managed to win a Palanca Award and publish her own book, Astigirl: A Grown Girl Living on Her Own Terms. A spunky and never-say-die individual who seemed to keep on pushing her own boundaries and even the boundaries of the creative process here in the Philippines, Tweet has the kind of accomplishments that I’d someday like to have. She is also a writing coach, with a style and mindset that is compatible with mine, so I took the opportunity to chat with her at the end of the evening.

At first, my questions were straightforward. I had one book that had already been partly written, but which I had shelved somewhere between the pressure of finishing a book and the tumult of dealing with my own emotions as I was writing, and I had two other books that were waiting to be written. I wanted to know the coaching process and how long it would take, and so on, until more questions emerged that revealed—even to myself—what my real problem was.

I had gotten so used to writing clearly for certain objectives, to editing others’ work and my own, to being focused and strategic… that I had somehow forgotten how to write authentically. I relayed to Tweet that when I would compare my blog posts from eight years ago, when I was just 23 and starting out on the creative path, to my blog posts as of late, I would see that my writing then was much more fluid, much richer and deeper… more real. I shared with her about how I would review my writing from the much younger Me, and be surprised to see that I had lost something along the way. Was it spontaneity? Was it that intuitive knowing and feeling? Was it that capacity to access deep emotions and convey them through my words? Whatever it was, I knew, without a doubt, that my current blog posts and personal writing feels dry, mechanical, as if I were writing for a client or a magazine instead of for myself.

And it hurt to see and acknowledge that. While growing in my career and getting more widely published, I had lost a bit of the original fire that set me off on this path in the first place. Tweet asked what it was that kept me from “going back” to that time, and I said that I was quite happy with the structure of my current life and was afraid of how raw everything was back then. I was 23 years old, jumping from one suffocating relationship to the one that would turn my life around and define a lot of who I am now, and in the same breath was jumping from a dead-end job to the creative path, and everything was changing and unfolding right before my very eyes. My writing seemed to capture the intensity of that period… but the intense struggles and joys of that time had also worn me out. And so you have me now, at 31, a lot older, a bit more stable, a bit more content, but also a lot more… rigid and quite incapable of accessing that “rawness” that also made my writing more REAL.

It’s an irony—and a curse, I think—to be experiencing this now, at a stage in my life where I feel that I have so much of myself to give, so much to share to others, that it would be the perfect time to write and publish my books, my words. But how can I when I cannot even tap into that most authentic part of myself that is capable of feeling, embracing, and expressing my truest emotions? I don’t want to write a book just for the sake of writing it! In Tweet’s own words to herself, I deserve the best book that I can possibly write and give myself. I owe it to myself as a writer. But here I am, busy editing others’ words, busy churning out polished piece after polished piece, achieving objectives and making my clients happy… but somehow, slowly but surely, losing a bit of myself every day.

So where do we go from here?

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Carren says:

    Hey, I am not at your level of writing yet, but I think that’s a constant struggle to remember the reasons you started on your path in the first place. I always try to recapture my reasons for writing when I can. I even wrote it down on the “Why I Write” piece on my portfolio. In a way, I knew the road could be filled with different paths, so I wanted a touchstone to remind me of my most sincerest motives. Maybe try writing for yourself with no intention of showing it to anyone? That’ll loosen up the fears, I think, maybe even show you that you have nothing to worry about.

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