When family or friends ask me what I do for a living, the most forthright answer I can give is that, “I write.” Indeed, I am quite apprehensive about being called a writer, all the more to consider myself as one. I do not live a life of letters. And if a man or a woman who does, would insist I am, flattery is almost always unsuccessful. There is great room in my considerations for fact-twisting or misinterpretation, which seldom escapes the route of accusations ranging from dishonesty, false humility, to perhaps even delusion. But I would rather people mistook my insistence with the action statement I write, rather than the noun. For the noun carries with it innumerable responsibilities as well as overwhelming repercussions which go beyond the writer’s life. I simply arrange the words to suit the needs of a context – a technical paper, a blog post, an ad copy, a friend’s medical ethics paper on euthanasia – not for the art as they say.
If I had written anything deemed worthy of being called a product of a life of words, of being considered literary (which luckily, I have not yet encountered) then it must be made clear they were never intended. What I choose to put in prose or poem are simply manifestations of personal turmoil. I am an ordinary human being, an individual capable of emotions, a man with his own sensibilities. What use of the art if not an outlet? While changing times often compel the person who writes to comment on society, entangle with politics, or advocate the trendiest ideologies, I have held on to the belief writing is the cheapest form of narcissism, and the easiest attempt at immortality. Understood best in hindsight, and with my own confidence improved by the remarkable nature of technology, most of what I choose to share – essays, verses, pretentious narratives, and even affected Facebook statuses – will most likely outlive me. It pleases me to cheat death albeit temporarily, to have recorded fragments of my life scattered in both paper and html. You can now almost be like God.
But perhaps, that is where the distinction between I write and writer lies. A writer’s imaginative prowess create worlds so incredibly vivid just through the sheer force of language that it’s an understatement to call it godlike. The writer makes his own story, and has power over his characters’ fate – who lives, who loves, who dies, who is stupid, funny, or unfeeling. Whether the narrative indulges the critics is beside the point (or not, after all I am not a writer). He has made a world through a chosen form and in the public sphere it is bound to make a dent. We see these in how books alter us, how poems inspire us, how songs and other works of art heighten our senses to transcend the physical world. Writing that moves; causality: a writer’s life.
When I reveal to you I simply write, this is not to belittle whatever shred of talent I possess. I know well enough my limitations, and hidden in the dark recesses of what I still do not know, is the possibility of becoming better. So how does a young man who writes become better? Through reading of course. Through the furious digestion of other writers and their own little horcruxes (pardon the Harry Potter reference, but it is the most apt imagery). “I write” after all, is an action denoting movement, and books exist to push, to shove, to shake us, break our souls, make us ache and yearn, to keep us restless until the last inch of the last page.
Will I ever become a writer? My refusal appears too persistent at the moment. I simply do not see myself solely writing for a living. And living constitutes more than a job, or a house, or a car, or a vacation house in Baguio where one can indulge in further creative and narcissistic endeavors. What is clear, however, is that I will still write, regardless of my stubbornness for proofreading, my inadequacies with prepositions, my deep aversion towards subject-verb agreement. I will write because it is the only thing I know I can do well enough to keep me company until my twilight years. So long as my physical capacities should afford me idle affairs with words, then I will make love with writing, and I will remain intimate with her requests. Regardless how opaque my passions are, there will always be a flame burning in me to express, to struggle for eloquence in a life of brevity.