Writing & identity issues

Last year I discovered that many of my friends and family don’t know that I write. Sure, they know that I practically aced every writing assignment I got in university, but they don’t know that I write. A lot. I actually identify with writing more than with anything else. I feel like I am a writer, or a storyteller at the least. As soon as I knew how to spell I started pouring my mind onto paper. It’s always been there, so I guess I thought everyone knew. Finding out that they don’t was strange; it even caused a tiny mental breakdown for me, where for a moment I wondered if anyone really knows who I am.

It started when I was preparing for my trip around the world. I thought keeping a blog would be a good idea, because it would be the easiest way to share my stories and express how I feel to anyone who would like to read it. I shared my first post with the disclaimer that I didn’t feel obligated whatsoever to keep the blog up to date, mainly because I didn’t want to give up on activities or sleep just to tell people on the other side of the world what was going on in my life. If I didn’t have enough time to write, I’d tell them at home. When I actually stopped writing, about a month into my trip, I didn’t get a lot of questions as to why I quit. The reason was something I never anticipated to have this effect: praise.

My posts were met with a lot of comments, which I could roughly separate into three categories: my trip, me, and my writing. To illustrate: “That city seems nice.” vs. “Sounds like you’re having a great time.” vs. “Reading this makes me feel like I’m there.”  Of course, this last comment wasn’t bad at all. Like many others, I enjoy hearing that I’m good at what I do. It got awkward when I got this message:
“You should write more often!”
At first, I simply rolled my eyes at it. The message was written by someone that doesn’t know me too well, so it didn’t really matter. They didn’t know that I spend about fifty percent of my waking hours on forming the best sounding sentences in my head. But then it happened (cue dramatic music): others started saying the same thing. The focus of my readers shifted from my ‘adventures’ to my words. Like this, I became horribly aware that other people don’t know that I can put words on paper in a certain order – which is the only thing I actually feel kind of good at.

Maybe the right thing to do would have been to continue the blog, to keep on going just to show them what I’m made of. I didn’t. I felt weirdly exposed of something that should’ve been known for a long time. As if I was holding out something for people to see and instead of looking at that, they looked at my hand. It was doing its job perfectly fine, but because the attention went to the wrong place it made me feel insecure. Why would something that was just a part of me, of my identity, suddenly get this much attention? Were they only saying this to make me feel good? Later I realised that I was being a fool and that the reason for these comments was ridiculously simple: nobody knew that I write, because I never told them about it. I never showed them my work.

So here we go. New blog. New post every Sunday.

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2 thoughts on “Writing & identity issues

  1. Suggestion: As a reader I would like to hear more specific detail about your travel experience as opposed to conceptual, generalized comments. Take me behind the scenes. Take me where I have never been or cannot go.

    Like

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