The Mirror of Words

Mirror showing text from a Word document

You know what the most terrifying thing about writing is? The moment when you look at what you’ve written and see a mirror reflecting those parts of you that you try so hard to bury.

Of course, you can’t judge a writer’s personality entirely on their writing. But more than once I’ve read through a passage I’ve written, paused, and thought did I actually just write that? When you write, all sorts of things begin to bob to the surface, things you thought you could so cleverly hide within yourself. But once they’re there, on the paper or on the screen, it’s like a physical proof of your inner self. You may not always like what you see—even if it is a rather killer sentence on paper—but, really, that’s just part of who you are. Inevitably a part of you will always come out in your writing, whether it’s your style, the genre, your turns of phrase.
I once made the mistake of writing myself into a story—as a leading character, no less. It was while I was in High School, writing my pirate book, Captain Jane Ivy. As I was writing the character of Alan Minaker, I had to consider what I would do in the situations he was finding himself in: would I cower and hide while the pirates pillaged my town? Would I lash out against my captors? Would I be a hero? One of my readers even called me out on this; I wrote a scene where Alan began swearing and fighting back against the pirates who had captured him and Jane, and they wrote “I don’t think Alan would do this”. Eventually, Alan became a person I wanted to be—but not who I was. I was in danger of admiring this fictional version of me moreso than the real me.
On the other hand, you know what the best part about writing is? The moment when you look at what you’ve written and see a mirror reflecting those parts of you that you want so desperately to show to the world.
I’ve had those moments where I’ve read through a passage I’ve written, paused, and thought that was so cool! As much as I write about writing being tough, difficult work, it’s also incredibly fun. You become a storyteller, and you get to tell your stories to the world. Writing is like a dream transfer system; the abstract—sometimes bizarre—ideas are transmuted from your mere thoughts into words which, in turn, become part of the reader’s thoughts. Ever since I played Fallout 3 my mind has been transfixed in post-apocalypse. The idea of the reset button being hit on the world, and putting humanity on the brink, has fascinated me, along with the deeper questions that arise out of it: are we as capable of good as we are of evil? Do we try to go back to the world we once had? The possibilities are fascinating.
One of my friends recently wrote a post about why she writes Steampunk. I’ve been a beta reader for her novel, and nearly every chapter I’ve read has had at least one part where I’ve thought, “OK, that’s just cool”. Her love of Steampunk seeps into the pages, and has been so infectious that I find myself giving her suggestions for additional cool, Steampunk details—and I’m not even a big fan of Steampunk. It just goes to show that if you writing is about love. If you write about what you love—and really, why would you write anything else?—you inevitably share that love with the world.

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