Chanel Martins: Why I Write

To become a writer has always seemed like a dream to me. What a freeing lifestyle it would be to exist untethered to the material aspects of the world: to travel, and see, and experience, and think, and write, and share…I have always envied those who have the ability to live this way. People who are able to uproot at a moment's notice and make life happen. To be free. Free...and alone.

It is the lonely part that holds me back, but not in the ways you might think. To be locked away for hours in inspiring atmospheres with nothing but thoughts and imagination for company would be ethereal. No time constraints, to-do lists, schedules, appointments or deadlines. Just a writer and a dream and a canvas on which to paint the art that stems from that dream. That, I crave, and I don't call it loneliness; I call it alone-ness. It is not that kind of solitude that I fear. That alone-ness is only temporary. It is the true loneliness of the broken and torn relationships that come from living in your head. The abandonment and betrayal people feel when you leave them behind to get lost within your own mind. Like letting go of the loose ends of a rope bridge, these relationships dangle dangerously in between holding on and walking away. It's the loneliness that comes from the walking away that scares me most. And the permanency of that different kind of alone-ness. Not-knowing makes me uneasy, but I have a constant fear of permanency of any sort —especially permanent loneliness. That is what strangles my hopes and stifles my mind and keeps me holding on to the semi-stability of the rope bridge, maintaining the relationships in my life semi-securely. I would hate to let them fall.

This tug-of-war between dreams and reality are what led me to attempt a teaching blog two years ago. It seemed like the perfect compromise between my lived, material life and my fantastical aspirations. I could have my life, and write it, too. Because that's what good writers do anyway, right? Good writers write about what they know—or so I've so often been told. But what I intimately know is too much to do and too little time while burning my candle at both ends, so the addition of a blog was not exactly my most prudent of decisions. Yet, I still yearned to write. So I did. I wrote every day. I wrote what I knew. I wrote what I experienced, and I called myself a Writer, writer with a capital W, because you can only call yourself that when you have a public showing of your pieces—or so I naively thought in my early-adult mind. And now I've gone back to reread my entries as a Writer and cringe at what was written. I suffered through reading the dry, lifeless, mundane details of my own life all because I listened to the lie of writing what I knew. In this writing adventure, though, I learned a valuable lesson. Real writers don't write about what they know, they write about what they feel. Emotion is what breathes life into writing. It is the life source of any great art. Without passion, anxiety, sorrow, hope, hurt, anger, or ecstasy writing is just words on a page, a forced chore, a bore, dull, stale, lifeless time consuming activity. Apathy is the death of art.

So is there really such a thing as compromise? Can I devote half of my heart to the tangible world I live in and the other half to my dreams? I'm certain it's a physical possibility, but does that then bleed through my art? Have other artists struggled with this battle between here and there? I can't say I've ever heard of the wonderful lives of artists, but instead of their blue periods—their amputations, crippling illnesses, handicaps, depressions, and anxieties—all of which led them to their greatest art. Happy people don't seem to make it in the artistically emotional realm, so how can I live my life straddling what is and what I want it to be without dipping deeply into the tortured artist cliché? So this is my newest undertaking. Here is yet just another canvas on which to spill the innermost matter of my wandering mind. I now do not write simply because I tell myself I have to. Nor do I write simply what I think I know. Instead, I write for therapy. I write for clarity. I write for inspiration. I write for freedom. I write for escape. I write for the sake of remembering. I write for the sake of writing. I write for art. I write for myself. I write to live. And maybe someday I can write for you, too.

Chanel Martins is a 27 year old avid reader and writer that hails from the West Coast. Her interests vary, but when she settles into a work of poetry or literature, she devotes sectors of her mind and soul to the immersion of the scene. To compliment her ventures, she is an associate editor of Thirty West Publishing House. Check out her book review blog or her Instagram @readthingswritestuff

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