This month's guest post is by Candice Sanzari, a playwright, poet, and storyteller. You can find her on Twitter.
Neil Gaiman once essentially said that the hardest yet easiest thing about writing was putting one word after another until your piece is finished. He is entirely correct. I find this to be particularly true when it comes to writing blog entries; however, I am pleased to be composing this one.
Growing up, I think I struggled a lot with the concept of having a voice. In hindsight, it really wasn’t until my freshman and sophomore years of high school that the seed of my voice was acknowledged, and then nurtured, by my creative writing instructors. To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t hear it myself, but they could. At the time, that was all I needed and all that mattered: having my voice heard when I failed to hear it myself.
Through the following years, my voice in writing has been nurtured, doubted, believed in, and dismissed by myself, and yes, even by others; after all, as in life, as in writing. Regardless, I’ve found that through every high and pitfall, the gift of writing has never truly left me, just like I have never truly left it. I’ll even go so far as to say that I cannot survive without my writing. Why? Because it’s given me the one thing that I used to believe I did not possess: a voice. A voice that’s given birth to an identity that helps me to anchor myself in tumultuous times. A voice that enables me to see myself clearly when my mind and my peers have lost the ability to do so. A voice that allows me to move and perhaps even inspire or empower those around me. A voice that shows that I matter, when everything else in the world tells me I do not.
An infallible truth is that the world will always attempt to shake you down, keep you doubtful of your voice’s own worth, and even, yeah, try to mute the truths and lives that your voice discovers, crafts, and nourishes. It’s up to you to not let the bastard that is the world win. How? Keep writing. Blocked? Uninspired? Get out of your head, get out of your neighborhood, and go live. Listen to the conversations happening on the streets, within every pocket it holds, and feel the vibrancy of experiences surrounding you. Encounter them. Breathe them. Write them. And for the love of the written word, read. Carve out time to do so. I know, I know, these tips and rules have been told time and time again but they are habits worth ingraining in yourself.
As for when the world strikes you down into the cruel, neglectful waves of doubt? Keep writing. Even if the words are dripping from your fingertips like water from an old, leaky faucet. Focus on just getting the words out. Exercise your voice until you can summon the strength to break through whatever is weighing you down, and preventing you from breathing. You may not always be able to feel or hear your voice, but your voice will never abandon you or lead you astray. Trust in it, and thereby, trust in yourself.
My voice isn’t always perfect. Neither will yours be. It’s okay to be imperfect. Owning and utilizing the voice within me keeps me alive, and by extension, keeps my stories, plays, and poems alive. By doing so, I love myself and those around me a little more deeply. I carry and spread hope, and perhaps even help someone find and strengthen a voice of their own. The voice I have is invaluable. As is yours. Never stop using it.