Opening yourself up to the audience
Every new year always comes with a wide array of fresh, exciting events. Now that 2015 has finally arrived, mine look something like this: the prospect of finals, the impending results of my college applications and, especially if I want to be honest, my failed attempts at writing New Years resolutions.
Most of those resolutions remain in the abstract, ranging from be happy more often to possibly procrastinate less on my homework, even though as a soon-to-be second-semester senior I should be able to do so to go outside more and stay away from the Internet from time to time.
Thinking too hard about these resolutions makes me cringe a little, because I realize that maybe Ive trusted myself with far too much responsibility.
Writing them down is a good start, at least.
One other item on my list is just that: This year, I plan on doing more honest-to-goodness writing, because I find that sometimes I tend to overlook the subtle power that lies in the simple act of arranging letters on a page. Writing is an exercise thats nothing more than placing black ink on white paper (or white ink on black paper, depending on how hipster I want to be), but at the same time it is possibly the best reflection of who I was in the past and who I want to be in the future and who I think I am right now.
The catch, however, is that I need to be honest and unabashed no deception or running away allowed. At the risk of sounding cocky, Ill say this: Over the years, Ive read my fair share of bad writing, and yet I also know that the people who wrote those bad pieces of literature arent bad people by any standard. Their writing only seems inauthentic because they dont bleed onto the page and imbue their words with whatever happiness and passion and sadness and pain they feel.
Because isnt writing all about opening yourself up to the audience? Its a scary concept, sure the idea that Im out there, my thoughts and emotions all laid bare right in front of whoever reads what I write. But that relationship between an author and a reader doesnt have to be hostile, not by any stretch of the imagination. If I can reach out my hand to the people on the other side of the page here, have a piece of my heart, take it and look at it and make what you will out of it chances are that they will take that hand and hold it in their own and connect to who I am beyond just the words and phrases and paragraphs.
Dont be scared, dont be shy, dont hesitate. Practice often. Live a little, love yourself a little more and explore the dark parts of your heart to find things to write about. The world spins around us, and I have never once doubted that all of us you, me, your English teacher, your parents, your spouse will be able to find inspiration in even the smallest of things if only we look hard enough.
And so I write. I do it wherever I can on pages of notebook paper when Im dozing off in class, on old napkins when I have a sudden thought and I want to jot it down, on the pixelated screen of my laggy laptop when my fingers fly across the keyboard.
Writing isnt hard at all, not when I realize that Im OK with the imperfections in myself and in the world and in the people around me, and that Im okay with sharing those beautiful flaws with other people.
Lake Oswego High School senior Ada Zhang is a regular columnist for The Review, and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.