After writing, it can take a while to swim back to the surface of your self.
— Teju Cole (@tejucole) August 16, 2013
First and foremost, if you have a Twitter and you’re not following Teju Cole, then I’d highly recommend you do so. You will not find a more poetic, more thought-provoking and more engaging person on Twitter in 140 characters or less.
With that said, this is one of my favorite quotes to come from his Twitter. I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment. Specifically, I find writing deeply personal, expansive introspective pieces to be incredibly draining; writing is draining because you’re pouring a little bit of yourself into every word on that page, each word containing the scraps of your being and essence.
Every time I write a piece such as that and post it, thereafter, I am completely done. He’s right; it takes a while for me to regain my “self.” I’ve given everything I could to the piece and there’s nothing left. I’m dead to the world. I’ll often turn off the lights and just lay down in order to regroup. It’s precisely why those personal, introspective stories are so few and far between because not only are they daunting to approach and actually do, but they simply take a lot out of me.
Writing is bleeding; writing is exercising your soul; writing is drowning in your own subconscious; all of these expressions are the truest reflection of just how much work writing actually is and I think that’s lost on people that don’t write. I think people’s perception of writers is that they go to a keyboard and magic flies out of their fingertips until a story appears. Not quite. Writing is more like if I stood in front of the mirror and scrutinized every blemish, every mark on my body and then told others about it. In other words, being honest and truthful in personal writing is hard. There’s a certain mental and emotional stamina and endurance required for it.
If it sounds like I am exaggerating, well, pick up a pen (or a uh…keyboard) and try for yourself; see how easily the “magic” appears.