Writing about Writing

You can tell a lot about a person’s growth by the difference you see in his writing. Not just in his writing but also by the manner and the topics he chronicles about.

Last night, I picked up my nine-year-old Harry Potter journal that my Mom gave to me as a pasalubong from the first time she went to visit our relatives in the States. This was after I opened and closed, opened and closed, opened and typed and saved as draft and closed, the Add a Blog Entry page here for the past couple of days. Or weeks.

I wrote on it again after my last entry dated August 2016. Six months ago. That’s the scenario in my Harry Potter journal… Sometimes, I have written five entries in a month. Sometimes, there’s a wide gap. I wrote there in my private journal, because I was feeling overwhelmed about writing online again.

I wanted to write something here about a particular topic, yet I did not know what I should write about. Should I write about my life for the past years, what’s currently happening, silent prayers, my art and process, my fears, my journey to a healthier lifestyle, a new career path? I did not know. I just missed writing terribly.

I think it’s been several months since I last sat down and actually wrote something with time, effort, and intention. The problem with me is that I don’t stick to the painful part in writing: that is, the actual writing. It’s the same with painting, drawing, animation, and editing. Actually, with everything! Nothing gets done when you’re not actively working on what needs to be done; the words will not type themselves for us. My mind may make up the paragraphs and flow and sentences, but they will stay there if I don’t stretch my fingers, grasp a pen or keyboard, and finish something.

Right now, I’m trying to figure out my voice again, how it used to speak, what it talked about, when it whispered, and when it explained a long story that needed recording and remembering. The past three years for me have been poured out to work, and I’ll always look back at these years with gratitude for the people I’ve met and worked with and the lessons I learned and I was taught all throughout my stay. In my first year, I’ve been writing, and I can still remember some of the things I wrote, but as things got busier and responsibilities increased in the coming years, hours after work simply became a time for rest. I’m a big believer of the importance of rest in the human body, mind, and soul, so when I know that my body and mind needed little recreation and sleep, I gave in to what was necessary. Writing was not given much time nor did I make time for it.

However, now that circumstances have shifted, I find that there is so much to catch up on. I haven’t written yet about the incredible people I’ve worked with, the values and discipline I learned from them, meaningful conversations, my own shortcomings at work which became lessons, joining Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan, personal experiences, people I love, family trips I cherish, my doubts and reassurances in God’s love, this new career path, the books I’ve read, my health journey, my views on art… There’s just so many, and time is making me wish I could write them all down soon.

To make sense of life and to reflect, I write besides praying. I need to put things down onto paper, into words so I can evaluate the who, what, where, when, why, and how of what happened in a day, in a week, in a month, in a year. If I don’t, I’d feel as though I have unfinished work – like a monthly report I haven’t done or a story long forgotten – because I know in my heart and mind that there are life events that I did not even make time to ponder about through writing.

Writing the above paragraph reminded me of the words of Anais Nin:

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”

Before recalling these words, this was the one that came to mind first: we write, so we live twice. Writing helps my memory and pushes me to remember the little details. We smile at the time a cousin threw a snowball at us playfully or a stranger watched us while we drew in a KFC branch in a gasoline station’s line of restaurants at the side of an expressway. As if we’re living that moment again but only through ink, paper, and memory, or perhaps, a blog entry draft that waited so long to see the light of day. And then in retrospect, we derive meaning from those situations… Sometimes, years can pass before we ultimately see and understand the beauty or silliness or sorrow of a certain event in our lives.

Before this topic about writing again, I thought of writing first about my health journey or the difficult and uncertain yet fun part of doing what you love and what you are interested in for a living. But because I have this tendency of writing words more than I can include into a cohesive entry and I get scared I might end up late into the night and break my commitment to sleeping earlier to wake up earlier, I keep putting it off.

But writing demands time.

Just as any other discipline does. Just as our relationships do. Just as our life does.

There are sacrifices. And not writing before puts me now in a place where I’m truly overwhelmed by the several things I want to write and share about, lessons that I learned from God, my family, friends, and my previous colleagues and superiors.

Because I am overwhelmed with the many possible topics to write about…

Here I am writing about writing instead.

I think I really just need a short breather again, like an excuse why I wasn’t able to write as much as I did before. Even right now, I don’t even know the scope of what I should write about. Sometimes, when I read other people’s blogs too much, I’m scared that the next time I write, I’m writing down a different person’s life, dreams, and beliefs. Where has my own voice, my own mind, my own free will gone to? I passively let other people’s dreams or voice swallow mine. Instead of being inspired by them, I become a spectator of their and my life.

It’s very important we pay attention to what we truly want to write about and how we want to do it. We are made differently and the way we process things also differs. It’s okay too to grow from what we were familiar and comfortable with when we were younger.

Although I was more open with sharing stories before, I’ve realized now that I’ve become more private, or maybe scared to write what I deeply care about and think of. There’s a lot of people who can read our blogs now at this age, and I fear being rejected or judged so easily. I’m afraid too of just writing the same old things people have already written about, only in a different way.

So I try to go back to the specifics. To my own life. To have a real, healing, learning, living person behind the worries, words, little victories, and pictures, so that somebody else sitting across a screen can relate to her. Of course, there’s the common sense tip of not giving our personal details on the world wide web, but what I mean is how honest and true we are when we write. When we are afraid of saying something but we know it is right in our heart and our moral compass is pointing to what is correct, we write about it.

Writing honestly and vulnerably involves risks and that risk is only to show your true self. It’s a risk because not many will like your true self, because you may be too timid, too strong, too narrow, too much of something for them. But if we find that one person who can find a home or healing in our words or story because we risked our honesty and weaknesses, it’s not so much of a risk but a gain now because we were able to comfort one person. In addition to writing with honesty is also writing with a heart, being considerate, understanding, and responsible of determining how our words can help or discourage a person, make or break a situation.

I love how Hannah Brencher writes. For me, she is unapologetic in her words and convictions. She is not afraid to show who she really is, what her thoughts are, what she thinks of God, topics that are difficulty to talk about. She encourages people in her writings and brings community onto her page. I wish I could have the same courage as she does when it comes to writing. I’ve lost a bit of that bravery when pain that helped me grow and start a personal relationship with God was part of the picture. I’ve lost a bit of that courage when I, instead of being inspired, was discouraged by the pool of magnificent writers out there. I’ve lost a bit of faith in myself when I worried too much about what other people thought about my art or writing or myself. I wish I could write about the things that are difficult to talk about in a simple, relational, loving, kind way…

But that’s me talking and feeling and thinking in my self-centered lens…

If I only take it off and put on the Christ-centered one, these worries of mine will surely vanish.

At first, writing for me was just for me. It was a way for me to release my emotions, to reflect, to read something when I get older, to record important lessons and events in my life.

That was the first half probably of my Harry Potter journal. When I started growing up, hopefully becoming wiser, the Arli writing on the pages was changing. What she wrote about then was different to what she writes about recently. (I do not write and I have not written about a high school crush in years. Haha!) Today, she wrote about her deepest (and silliest) prayers and worries and thanks to God. And lessons. Lots and lots of life lessons from God, family, and friends.

We see our growth in our writing.

But now that I’m returning to blog more again, I hope that I’ll be able to focus my writing in what God calls me to write about more. To not do it for me but for Him and my neighbors who may drop by here at any given time like a welcome visitor, a long-time friend. To use this gift from God as a service to others.

Hoping that what you may find in here will be of hope and kindness and a reminder that writing inspires and witnesses our growth. Hoping that my words, no matter how simple or shallow they can be at times, will be like a letter written for a friend.

But hoping more that we grow gracefully not just in words but in our actions.

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