Writing: Artistic Expression or Masochistic Compulsion?
by Ismael Manzano
When I started this little dream of mine to become a writer, I was one amongst dozen, a lone gunman with a crazy idea for what I wanted to do with my life. Among the thousands of possible jobs, I chose the one that—according to most how-to books and author biographies—can’t be taught. Sure, the principals of writing can be taught and the structure of stories can be taught, but the art of writing—the heart and soul of it—can not be taught. It’s either in you or it’s not, is the consensus. How crazy is that, to throw your hat into a field that you either are or will never be qualified to master. Now, at almost 29 years of age, I find that I’m surrounded by writers, aspiring and otherwise, and still, I’m no closer to my little dream than I was when I was almost twelve.
So my question to the public at large—or to no one at all—is why do I or anyone for that matter, keep trying when all the odds are clearly against us? Is it the artistic gene within us, that invisible drive to create something out of nothing, or is it all just a hopeless dream that we can not let go of, like a ten year old refusing to give away their safety blanket?
Me? I write because I feel the need to, because when I wake up in the morning I think of nothing else but ideas I want to see in print and because a day that goes by where I don’t write, doesn’t feel like a complete day. But why is that? I don’t know. All I can say is that I’ve been following this dream for more than half my life and every day more and more ideas come to my already overflowed head.
But why? What has writing ever done for me? So far, nothing, save the rush, the thrill of seeing something evolve and grow out of nothing and become something—I hope—wonderful. Still, it is a daunting exercise in futility and pain. Unless you’ve tried it, writing without success—maybe even with success—you can’t imagine the mood swings that accompany my chosen dream. The frustration is nearly overwhelming; some days it is more than overwhelming. I bounce between forcing myself to write because I believe in my heart that that is what god had intended me to do and being one bad sentence away from chucking the whole thing away for good and living a real life with real dreams. I can go from knowing with absolute certainty that I’m a great writer to knowing with absolute certainty that I’m a hack who just wants to take the easy road in life and not have to make honest living like my parents always told me to.
To the latter part of myself, I tend to laugh in hindsight, because if there is one thing that writing is not, it’s easy. And if there is one thing that is not conducive to being a writer is laziness. So if I were truly lazy, I’d have picked a different field or I’d given up years ago.
What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Am I paving the way to a bright future, paying my dues as all writers most do—I suppose—or am I just crazy? Either way, I going to keep on writing, because whether it’s a mental defect or an influx of energy in that part of the brain that handles inspiration and creativity, I have no other choice but to be who I am.
And I am an aspiring writer. One day, with luck and hard work or with an added mental problem, I’ll take the aspiring out of my title.
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