Gustave Flaubert once said, “I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.” Frequently, this is how I approach my writing; I know what I feel and I can see the words painting pictures in my head, but they never seem to correctly decipher from internal thoughts to external pages. This has happened since the beginning of my relationship with writing.
In my early years, my mother was a librarian, so she spent much of her time planting me in gardens of books and watering me with words so I might grow to love ink and paper like she did. She succeeded. As a child, I was endlessly reading whenever I could find the time: during class, before sports practices, during dinner. Because of this premature passion for words, I became just that- “a violinist whose ear is true.” I was aware of all the ingredients that melded together to form a good story. To me, in writing, there was a canyon between right and wrong, light and dark, beauty and imitation, and I found it within myself to desperately try and recreate the allure I found reading my favorite texts.
As a result of this, when I started writing, I became my own biggest critic. It was a perpetual cycle: I would write a sentence, stare at it, dismiss it as trash, then delete it. The process I endured could be described flawlessly in one word: frustrating. My expectations for perfection stifled my ability to compose. The never ending battle between who I am and who I should be as a writer was suffocating. To this day, I still wrestle with these chains of excellence. As Voltaire said, “the best is the enemy of the good,” and I have learned that I need to be able to completely unleash my thoughts uncensored and unedited without worrying about their exact quality that I envisioned. Through this, I am able to actually produce work, instead of being smothered by mulling over insignificant details.
Sometimes, words lose their meaning once they begin the journey from the head to the pencil. Frequently, there is mistranslation. It worries me that, like the violinist struggling to reproduce their inner cacophony, I will be unable to fully duplicate my thoughts. In my opinion, there is always a sense of beauty that is lost when attempting to put phrases to a feeling. Writing is enchanting, but from time to time, pure wordlessness is the greatest magic of all, because it means that there is part of the human experience that can’t be computed, digitalized, or understood. Some things can’t be watered down to letters on a page.
Despite this, writers have the hardest job: trying to make the intangible something we can touch.