I Am Afraid of Starting to Write

We arrive at the parking area and get out of the car. We walk to the apartment. He suddenly stops in middle of the way and turns to look at my eyes squarely, “Hey Shogo, did you write something today?”

I am a little surprised of his sudden question and reply, “No, I didn’t. Why, Gerardo?”

“Nothing, my friend. I just thought why Shogo hasn’t started writing anything past two weeks. Shogo, why don’t you start writing something? You have a lot of time now and have a place to write.”

“I might start writing next year, Gerardo. Because I have to study, improve myself, and develop my art of writing more. I need more time to get started.”

“Why? You’ve studied about writing for nine years. I think it’s more than enough. You just have to start writing something. It doesn’t matter what you’re going to write. It doesn’t matter if you write nonsense, but the essential thing is that you need to practice writing.”

“Yes, I know, my friend. Let me explain – as you know, I’m going to write in English, so I naturally have to improve my English more because English is not my native language.

Moreover, I need to expand my knowledge as well as gain more experiences. Just wait, my friend. When the right moment comes and when I get divine inspirations, I’ll write like a madman. Just wait and you’ll see, my friend.”

Pause.

He is shaking his head, “No, no, Shogo. Three years ago or two years ago, you said these things – I believed you. But now I don’t believe you, because everyone knows your English is great; you’ve studied hard these past nine years, so I assume you have enough knowledge to write; you’ve traveled around and gained a great deal of experiences. I know you are ready to write. I sometimes wonder when Shogo is really going to get started or wonder if Shogo might never start writing. I think you are scared of writing.”

I am a bit agitated at his direct affront and defend myself involuntarily, “Gerardo, listen. I’m not scared of writing, as you said. You’re definitely on the wrong track of thinking in that way. No, I’m just waiting for the right moment to write, and every writer needs enlightenment. Besides, I really need more study and research to get started. I know what I’m doing. As you know, I’ve struggled in vain to write for years, because I need something more, namely, my own style and my own voice. I’ve been trying to figure them out for years. Thus, just wait patiently and give me the time to understand myself. As soon as I find them, I’ll start writing, that I can promise you; however, I can’t promise you when. Meanwhile, let me do it on my own way, and I’ll read more books.”

He is not convinced, “But, Shogo, even if you can’t figure out your style or your voice, you should write something. Let’s say, just two hours per day. You know, you can’t write a book without practicing. So, just try to write something tomorrow. Furthermore, I really think you don’t need to read books anymore because you’ve already read a great deal of books. Shogo, you’ve read books these past nine years. I really think you’re afraid of writing. Maybe, you don’t want to be disappointed in yourself. I really think so, man. If you want to read more, it’s okay with me, but please start writing something.”

Pause.

I look down the uneven street and finally say, “Yap, you might be right. I should start writing something and should practice it. I’ll try to write something tomorrow after reading a book. Thanks, Gerardo. Well, I want to smoke, you can go upstairs.”

“Why? Let’s smoke at the apartment.”

“Yeah… but I just want to be alone for a while.”

“Okay… see you up there, man.”

I light a cigarette and look up the sky. I can see only few stars tonight, and the night is a wee bit chilly. I am peeved because what Gerardo has said is true: I am scared to death of writing. I know why he asked me about writing – because he is worried about me. I know that Jorgito too is worried about me although he did not reproach me directly, but I am very sure that he is still wondering why I have not gotten started. Gerardo knows me very well and must have been feeling that I am scared of writing – that is why he wanted to encourage me and push me to get started. They are true friends. I should have composed myself and should have accepted my inability to get started. However, I could not stop defending myself to him, because I know deep inside that he is absolutely right: I am afraid of starting to write. I very much love writing – I always write long letters to my friends and constantly write my own thoughts, but alas, whenever I try to write my book, I suddenly become paralyzed: I just cannot write anything. I didn’t want to acknowledge to my friends that I cannot write. This is my weakness. They are my true friends, so I should show them my weakness as well, but if the thing concerns writing, I refuse to show my inability to write to anyone even if they are my best friends. Because if I admit, all my strength, belief, and faith will be gone. Perhaps, I still cannot believe in myself fully; therefore, I defend myself obstinately whenever being asked about the progress of my book. I know that I have to use the worthy circumstances fully to start writing something; however, I am paralyzed. I am not able to write. And I am not ready to admit my weakness to even my best friends.

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