As someone who writes habitually, quickly, and passionately, stopping for an entire week was a daunting task. I felt like this pause was going to kick me further down the totem pole of writing success. I was in the middle of writing for many different platforms, sharing my writing on every social media account I could think to join, and growing my own publication on Medium for writers to whom I’ve promised writing success – the same success that I was so desperately trying to secure for myself.
Every time that I published a story and was getting ready to share it online, I felt my familiar pang of fear – will it ever be seen by anyone? I was used to my work ebbing and flowing, sometimes hitting an audience that raved about it and sometimes hitting radio silence. For words that came from a place of vulnerability, that silence was deafening to me. It made me feel like I was driving into a wall, over and over again, as if I just couldn’t see another way around. I never doubted the ideas that I had to share with the world. I knew that in these times of depression and lethargy, my experiences could be uplifting to others. I wrote my stories with words that gave me goosebumps, that felt like gospel. But when it came time to share them, my expectations and attachments were far from anything joyful.
Thanks to a dear mentor and friend, I eventually came to a realization that has not only inspired this post, but my own change in the relationship I have with my art. I chose silence for a reason. Since childhood, I’ve created art, poetry, stories, and anything else that I could get my hands on. Making something was cathartic, but what mattered more to me – what I didn’t get – was the attention and acknowledgement from the people who mean the most to me. My parents. I was writing to express, but I was sharing to be seen. And I still do, today.
After this realization, and with my friend’s help and guidance, I did the clear opposite of what I’ve been doing since I was 10. I stopped writing, and I chose to keep my words and ideas silent. Now you may think that this decision undoubtedly thwarts creation. Actually, it’s quite the opposite.
We have the beautiful freedom to write and express ourselves in any way that we choose; but we don’t pause long enough to understand or question why we write or create in the way that we do. More so, we don’t dig deep enough to uncover what our writing is all about, or why we do it or love it so much. What is the bottom line? And if you’re like me, and all you really want is just to be seen by your parents, friends, colleagues, and peers, than maybe there is more to our past that we can process.
I’ve learned that this gift – even though it may feel far from it – pushes aside all of the attachments we hoard and the results we’re dying to see. After all, creating something is pure, unedited, genuine, and comes from within. To share it means that you give it breath of life to go out into the world, without a contract or an expectation of what returns to us. Silence then becomes your best medium, because it allows that pure, unedited creation to lead you to where you’ve never been before.
Our words are our currency. They can lead astray or they can lead within. I’ve chosen to surround them in love and attention, the kind that I can gift to myself, so that what I write is not contingent upon who sees them, but rather what it means to me to express them.
Aleks Slijepcevic from Souhl