You need to be who you are as a writer

Do you remember the moment when you first yourself in the mirror? I think I remember that moment, although it might have been a dream. Anyway, it is not important whether it was a dream or a real event. When I first saw myself, I was four or five years old and I thought, “who is this ugly girl?”

Some people don’t like to look at themselves in a mirror, and some people love doing it. Personally, I don’t feel very comfortable looking at mirrors at night, but you sometimes need to check whether your hair is twisting funnily or whether you have any unexpected hair coming from your nose or ears.

When I am looking at myself in the mirror, most of the time, the lady in front of me is not my ideal one. I have been struggling with the gap between the ideal self and real self. I believe that everyone is more or less the same. People want to look nicer than they do, even just ‘a little.’ So do I, even when I am writing.

When I was 14 years old, my Japanese teacher liked one of my compositions and said that he wanted to nominate it to the region-wide writing competition. He asked me to edit and revise it to complete as a ‘decent essay’ because it was a rough draft.

I didn’t think I was very ambitious or competitive at that time, but anyway I brought it back home and rewrote it to make it more sophisticated. Next morning, I passed it to my teacher in school. As soon as he received it, he read it in front of me and said: “Well, you know, the previous one was better than this, I should say.”

It was the first honest critique of my writing in my life. His words slightly hurt me and I was disappointed. However, a part of me agreed with him. I knew I had screwed it up. I tried to write something more than who I was. I tried to pretend to be a better person than I was. I added too many words to the essay, which I thought were nicer and more beautiful, but which were not really necessary. I wanted it to look tidy and neat, and then, I ended up making a mess of it.

Writing is sometimes tricky work. You write your stories and you want yourself and your writings to get applauded by others if possible. At the beginning of your writing career, it may not be very difficult to write as who you are. Ironically, after you get a small audience and as your audience is getting bigger and bigger, it could be less easy to be yourself.

Writers are vulnerable to critics. When we write, we have to open up our brain and put it on the table, as if it was a public dissection. The fear of getting criticised and having shame about exposing yourself makes you want to exaggerate yourself by coating and decorating.

It is not easy not to pretend to be an ideal self when we are writing. However, we only have to be a little brave to mirror ourselves and just draw who is there.