The Self-Hate of Writers Part I: Comparison


Envy, jealousy, yep, yeah, normal part of life and being human, cool, we just deal with it because we all know that there is always someone bigger or better or richer or smarter or whatever than us. We’ve heard all that. A billion times. They’ve become platitudes with which we try to soothe ourselves, knowing all the while that it’s the equivalent of placing a Band-Aid on a mortal wound.

Note: Before I begin, I would like to say that I haven’t published anything in my life. I’m still trying. I’m still young. My goal is to publish something, anything, before I die, so my expectations are not high. That said, I like to call myself a writer. Because, though it is a title that can be earned, I think a writer is who I am, my soul, my being, my essence. Make of that what you will. It may only be sheer presumptuousness on my part.

When writers deal with envy, we take it to a whole other level. It’s a battle. A raging war. You know there are going to be casualties, and most of them will be pieces of yourself.

Let’s try and condense the envy of writers when they compare their work with other writers into a couple of acidic droplets, shall we?

Writing is a very personal part of writers. Duh, Sherlock. But I cannot emphasise this enough. When someone criticizes our writing, they might as well be calling our own baby a disgusting, wrinkled mole or personally insulting us. It hurts, because this jumbled mass of words is an ejection of our soul, and, by rejecting it, you are rejecting us. Irrational, but hey, writers are not the most rational of creatures. Which is why we have our imaginations and convoluted logic to make up for that (Pigs can fly, humans, like pigs, are animals, ergo, humans can fly. Boom! A story about flying humans. Never mind the fact that pigs can’t fly in the first place).

So, seeing as writing is basically an extension of our being, when another person’s writing (and therefore their soul, if you want to get dramatic about it) is better, more wondrous, beautiful or poetic than our own, we sometimes shrivel up into self-loathing and hate. I don’t care if you tell me that you are always the better person and sublimate envy into motivation to improve your own writing. Either way, it writhes within your gut, even temporarily, like a spitting nest of snakes. Not good enough. Three words. That’s it. A drum-beating mantra that shakes the shingles from your rocky tower of self-esteem and sends the whole lot clattering down into skeleton bones.

 But, you might say, I don’t think writers or artists/creators, feel envy much more strongly than, say, Bob, who is jealous of Penny’s new car and promotion. I beg to differ. For exactly three reasons.

1. Artists, of any kind, tend to be emotional creatures because without emotion art is nothing. Therefore, we just might feel envy more keenly than the average Joe.

2. A car and one’s writing are two different things. One is a metal husk which is not an extension of a person’s soul and could, or should, not be a reflection of oneself. And the another? It is the essence of who you are. Sometimes, it’s the only source of your self-esteem and the only reason you get up in the morning and keep living in this godforsaken society. It’s only thing that makes you happy and the only thing you want to be really, really good at. It is you. And having someone else’s ‘you’ be better than yours? Soul crushing is an understatement.

3. Painters, writers, actors, designers etc. aren’t always the most sociable, agreeable people in the world. Sure, there are happy creators of art but if you just take a look at the number of writers and other artists who have committed suicide throughout history, it is a bleak picture. We can be moody. Clingy. Anxious. Depressed. Sometimes even mentally unstable. They say there is great method in madness and perhaps that’s the source of our creativity. Either way, it can make us very dour people when mixed with a dose of envy.

I wish I could offer some inspirational advice. But they are hackneyed and well-worn. You and I both know that there are going to be writers who are better than us. You and I both know that our writing is far from what it should be. You and I both know that we are not putting in enough grind, seeing as procrastination is an occupation hazard when it comes to writing. You and I both know that maybe, no matter how much we love this thing, no matter how hard we work at it, sometimes nothing can replace genuine talent.

We might – no, we will – never be good enough. And that is terrifying.

Are we only chasing a fantasy? Our own shadow? Will we die with our dreams unfulfilled, the depths of our souls unplumbed, our inner treasures never having seen the light of day?

There is no point in thinking about that. In fact, there is no point in thinking at all. There is no point in envy, especially when we realize how petty our lives and affairs and worries really are in the full scheme of existence.

If this was your last week to live, would you spend your time being jealous of someone else? Or creating the best art you can create, in the time that you have?

You’d be a fool not to choose the latter.

I’m here to slap you in the face and make you realize what I have discovered, after years of self-hatred and comparison, feeling like I was a big, fat nobody, crying myself to sleep, hating every word I wrote, hating other writers with every cell of my body (Yes. I’m not afraid to admit it).

There is no time for envy. There is no time for hate. There is no time for thinking.

Just do. Just write. JUST WRITE. Forget about everything, just do this damn thing, okay? Just do it. Who cares if it’s not good enough. Who cares if every other writer in the entire universe is better than you and feels smug about it. Who cares. Think about your regrets on your deathbed. Think about how meaningless this existence is and therefore how inane your envy is. Muffle and strap that inner critic of yours to a chair in the basement. JUST DO. Do what your soul wants to do. Do what you were born to do. Do what you were meant to do. Do what you only can do.

Write. Write. Write.


Feeling Isolated As A Kid


I hated school.

I was a good student, but I did it all with gritted teeth and vindictive fury towards the entire education system that valued obedience and memorization and class participation rather than free-thinking, creativity and introspection.

Primary school was alright.

One, there weren’t any academic pressures.

Two, I was oblivious about being ostracized socially and spent a good deal of my time, all alone, cooped up in the school library. And that made me happy. This was back when libraries were still quiet. The world seems to get noisier every day.

Three, I still hadn’t faced my individuality. Basically, every time I felt a disconnect with my inner self and my surroundings, I ignored the discord and simply molded my mind and thoughts to fit in with others. Dialogue of moi rejecting myself:

What? This conversation is shallow. I don’t care about sport. I don’t care about what you are going to wear to the party. Why am I smiling so hard, why does it hurt so much, like my face is plastic being stretched? No, no, just smile, be happy, why isn’t this making you happy, something must be wrong with you, talk, talk, TALK. Be normal. SMILE.

But highschool. Highschool. That hellhole sure topped the cake.

Highschool was perdition. I felt like I was being scorched every day. My self-esteem and my sanity were being burnt off, slice by slice, until I was left raw, exposed, a twitching mass of muscle that frittered its way from class to class like a robot on overdrive. Mouth clanking open into smiles. Talking until my cells withered from exhaustion. People, everywhere. I felt like a sardine crammed into a tin case, the oiliness clogging up my brain and my lungs. And the libraries were noisy! Full of gaggling students. My haven was gone. My soul was left homeless. People had even desecrated this? They had already taken almost everything I held dear. But now, they had taken away this? This glorious depository of literature?

No-one understood me in highschool. I repeat, no-one. Sure, I had a couple of nice, sort of close friends. But they had barely scratched the surface of who I was. No matter how hard I tried to be genuine, I always tried to present a façade. Partially because I wasn’t sure who the real me was. Partially because I wasn’t sure I could express the real me through oral communication when written communication is a medium I feel far more comfortable in. Partially because I knew that people would not accept the weird, quirky, eccentric me and that even if I revealed that part of me, they would not understand. Different wavelengths with different signals can’t communicate. I do not mean that in an egotistic way. I just mean that I was different. It was like trying to cram two jigsaw puzzles together when they obviously don’t fit. You can’t make a picture, no matter how hard you yearn for completeness.

I was pretty much a loner. I hate to use that word, as it has such a negative connotation, as many adjectives describing introverted and sensitive people do (touchy, anti-social, quiet, boring) but I was. I drifted away from my group of ‘friends’ because I felt no personal connection with them. All my conversations with them were held on an entirely superficial level, they didn’t like or understand me and I was wasting my break times in pleasing them, being this artificial, extroverted clown, painting a red smile and hoping it would not crack and splinter into a bloodied grin.

So, I spent my lunchtimes alone. I hid from people, in whatever nook and crannies I could find in the school, retreating into books, my own thoughts, music, because I was so socially drained. I feel energy sapping away from me just by being in a room of people. It makes me feel self-conscious and insecure. And some people might say this is because I have no confidence. But since when did confidence equate with extroversion?

The worst part of highschool was my jealousy. I didn’t understand why it was so unfair. These laughing, happy, chatty people were incredibly happy. And they fit in with society. I wasn’t happy fitting in. But I felt ostracized, jeered at, demeaned and lonely when I was being true to myself and catering to my introverted needs. I had a lose-lose situation. They had a win-win situation. What could I do? Wasn’t I stuck?

I still struggle with this. Highschool isn’t the end of social situations. All of society is a swirling pot of interaction. Some bob and float to the top, happy as can be, while others sink.

I sink. I sink everyday. I sink to my watery death, hair trailing, fingers scrabbling at the water like frantic spiders, mouth open in a horrible, drowning gargle.

So this is what I grasp onto when I feel terrible about myself. When I feel like no-one in real life understands me or accepts me. When I sing songs and cry to myself because a lack of validation, a lack of belonging, is a starvation of the soul and I’m so hungry for people to see and understand me. Me. This essence in this flesh-sac. I retreat into my imagination:

One day, I’m going to have a small cottage, near nature, a bubbling brook, a grove of trees, away from civilization, remote. The entire house will be converted into a library. I will sleep on a bed constructed of books. I will read to my hearts content and write everyday. I will have a bevy of felines to comfort me. I will grow my own garden, to sustain myself. And no-one can bother me there. I will create my own validation, through my words, my imaginings. I will validate myself. I will create a place where I belong myself. I will shape my own reality.

And maybe, one day, I will float.

– Dreamerrambling

Love Letter To Imagination


You are the love of my life.

You are always there for me.

Even when this universe seems to crash against another and the cosmic explosion tears a rift down my reality.

You take me to other worlds. Undreamed of, unheard of. New worlds. Exciting worlds.

You blossom when I am alone with you. Nothing else except you and me.

You come to life when I plaster you down onto paper and give you a leaden, penciled kiss.

You are the bright fire that stokes my soul when all around darkness lies.

You’re there when no-one else is. You’re there when I’m sad. You speak to me of the suffering of phantoms. Of aliens. Of inanimate objects. Of misery in another dimensions. You string all these characters around me for commiseration, and I feel better.

If I were to lose you, my life would be empty.

My heart would be empty.

My soul would be empty.

My brain would be empty (literally).

Existence would lose all colour. I would become the walking dead. I would miss your whispers. Your kisses. Your caresses. 

You won’t ever leave me, will you? After all, you are a part of me, more than you will ever know.

You can’t leave me. Unless my television intake increases and I become a brainwashed zombie and neglect you. Unless I go under the knife and get a lobotomy and I forget you.

I know we will have a wonderful, long life together.

I hope we have lots of babies in the future. Book babies. Story babies.

We’ll rock together on the front porch, watching the sunset.

We’ll cradle in the warmth of each other when my body takes its last breath.

You’ll whisper bony secrets to me and my dying lips will rasp back.  

And once I am gone, you must leave. You will grieve. You will cry.

But then you will move on. A vaporous exit from out my ears. You will feel happiness again.

You will flit inside another’s skull.

A new relationship.

A new beginning.

And again and again.

For all eternity.  



It Sounded Better Inside My Head


Why is it that ideas seem brilliant in one’s mind, but once it is ejected out into the world through some medium, be it speech or sounds or words or gestures, falls flat and dead like a deflated balloon?

You know what I mean. That wonderful joke bubbling in your skull which, when exposed to judgment, sounds lame and receives only half-hearted laughs that trail off into awkward silences. Your idea of the perfect, family outing which is received amid groans by the necessary participants. Those story ideas that glisten with magic inside your mind but come out on paper lackluster and dull.

That last one is the bane of my existence. And, if you’re a writer, or a creator of any artistic or original work, it might be yours too. The It-Seemed-Better-Inside-My-Head syndrome. Being the eccentric lass I am, I have the ability, if I do say so myself, to come up with the strangest and fantastical ideas for stories. But even if I let them ferment inside my head for a while before putting it down on paper, it always comes out all wrong.

It’s like thinking the child in the womb is going to have purple, sparkly eyes and midnight hair and glowing green skin and for him or her to come out disgustingly normal and banal.

It’s quite a nasty shock, because you think to yourself, yes, yes, I’ve got this seed of a brilliant idea, oh boy, I’m a creative genius, they will shower me with accolades from the top of the Eiffel Tower once this gets published! And so you’re off floating on the clouds of idealism and egotism. And then, you’re all pumped and ready to birth your brain child into the world and thump! You crash down to earth like a flaming aeroplane. What? How could this be? And you feel a completely irrational sense of betrayal. Like, hands, why couldn’t you have written better words? Brain, why did you not communicate your sentiments better to hands? You feel inadequate and useless and get stuck into the why-do-I-even-bother-mentality, I mean, it’s obvious that you have you no creative or writing talent. Those were just silly ideas and fancies that popped into your head. You don’t have the ability to wrench them from the clouds and plaster them to paper.

Ultimately, it’s a disconnect between idealism and reality. You blow the entire concept out of proportion, channeling it to incredible heights of magnificence. The end product will never be perfect. It will often be just good enough and you have to realize that being good enough is not a bad thing. If you have enough ‘good enoughs’, then you may be able to reach an ‘almost perfect’ one day.

It might also be due to lack of practice, which is my problem. I’ve only recently begun a writing schedule. Before, the only writing I did was in bursts of inspiration. That gets you nowhere. But, because of that, I’m still in nascent stages of my writing development. I may have the ideas, but I don’t have sharp enough tools to carve those ideas out of the rock in one piece. They may come out lopsided. Some parts of it may crumble. They may not even come out at all. But I have to keep honing my skills if I want to achieve my writing dreams.

Writing is an act of faith. You have to believe in your own genius and abilities, otherwise you have nothing to buoy yourself in times of hardship, when the well of creativity runs dry or words start rolling out like haphazard pebbles.

So, even if it always seem better inside my head, I will not let that discourage me. It shouldn’t discourage you, either, no matter what it is. Tell the jokes that you think are hilarious. Voice the opinions you believe are true and valid and insightful. Do the things you want to do regardless of whether it lives up to the fantasy.

And maybe one day, it’ll come out even better than it seemed inside your head.


Reality Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be


Reality in the modern age is glorified.

The ‘life is tough, suck it up’ mentality is everywhere. Daydreaming is frowned upon in schools. People are scrambling to gain degrees in the STEM fields while the arts degrees are jeered with an accompaniment of distasteful unemployment jokes. Logic and hard skills are valued over creativity and soft skills. Everyday, politics, wars, gang violence and rape cases are splashed across the front pages. There are fewer fantasy novels and movies rising the ranks in popularity, apart from the Harry Potter series. And ‘down-to-earth’ is the ultimate compliment.

But, hey, after all, we’ve got to be grownup now, don’t we? I mean, fantasy and imaginary worlds are suitable for kids. But you’re an adult. You’ve got bills. You’ve got to worry about money and employment and all that fun stuff. You’ve got to stick your head out of those clouds, baby. Got to do this, got to do that. You should read books about the true pith of life – relationships, breakups, death, love. You must watch the news in order to be a dignified and well-informed citizen. Fill in tax forms. Go to the grocers. Learn how to drive. Open a bank account. Got a retirement plan? Good, make sure you make that electronic number in the bank database system go up. Flying gremlins on a cereal box? How silly. Little Timothy would like that.

All of those grownup tasks are important. But is it wrong to hate and even ignore reality? What’s wrong with living inside one’s head?

Oh, plenty, you might say. Those people don’t understand. Life is tough. Everyone needs money. It’s not going to fall out of the sky like magic! You’ve got to do these things, see, to survive in the world. And thinking about things which add nothing to the quality of your life – imagining what it would be a like to be a butterfly or sleep on the clouds or what would happen if suddenly all the clocks in the world stopped – is useless. You need to think about more important things. Worry. Stress. Yes, escape into books and movies for a little while, but you must come back to reality and face the ugly truths.

See, that might work for some people. In fact, most people do inhabit reality for the majority of their lives. But there are others who can’t live like this. Others who ignore reality for the sake of their sanity. Others who wish for magic. Others who have the quirkiest thoughts throughout the day and try to hold back giggles of delight out of fear of being judged (Ahem. Can you not read?We ordered stony, serious faces, thank you very much). Others who sit on the train and stare at the sullen faces of other participants of the rat race and dream of something more.

They could be anyone in your daily lives. That coworker who stands, staring off into space, at the water kiosk and holding up the line, much to the chagrin of disgruntled and thirsty employees. That girl who mumbles to herself and takes an eternity to walk to school because she is so distracted by the butterflies and bees and flowers and the sky and her own thoughts. That secretary who doodles stories on her sticky notes. It might even be you. Such people are dreamers, who will be chased after all their lives by friends and teachers and parents and employers and the media, all of them flourishing manacles and desiring to bound them to the earth.  

But I honestly think there is nothing wrong with living inside your head most of the time. Sure, you may appear rather eccentric and aloof. You may come across as being snobbish or ditzy or absentminded or scatterbrained. You may not be the most ideal employee. You may forget your friend’s birthday. Your friends may hate you. Your family may humour you. But you’ve got that magic, shimmering world inside your skull. It’s beautiful, it’s malleable. It’s escapism at its most portable.

I think some of the greatest inventors, thinkers, do-gooders, writers, singers and artists became what they were and achieved what they did because they denied their current reality and strived towards the fantasy inside their head. I think that, though a dose of realism is necessary, being too realistic curtails one’s dreams, throws up rigid barriers in one’s path. I think that to dream, to imagine, to fantasize, all of which are frowned upon in our rock-hard, left-brain society of skyscrapers and banks and institutions and politicians and accountants and bankers and doctors and lawyers and carpenters and so on, is a actually a good thing, because it often means you believe anything can happen and that you can do anything.

Sure, living up there in that airy-fairy world means you may forget your keys and lose important documents now and then. Your house may look like it’s been hit by a tornado most of the time and you may not be the spouse or friend of the week.

But all that doesn’t matter. Because these bursts of magic inside your mind are precious. You know they are. They make you happy. They make you smile. They make you create things that might one day make others happy and smile. And the world needs that. More than you can ever imagine.

So, feel free to dream.



We have enough miserable people living in reality as it is.


Messy Handwriting Syndrome

I know, I know. Jumping from philosophical cogitations about the meaning of life and then deciding to focus on the neatness of one’s penmanship is a bit of a leap.

Messy handwriting. Pssh. Who cares?

But it’s often the small corners that need to be pulled back to reveal the greater view of life. Of something like that. It’s late and my metaphorical sprite is half-asleep.  

All throughout my school life, I suffered from the Messy Handwriting Syndrome.

I don’t mean messy handwriting like a couple of swirly scrawls. Let’s see if I can formulate an apt comparison. My handwriting looked like an alien puked its black-livered guts onto a page and the body juices ran together in rivulets until it looked like a map crisscrossed with dark river systems. Like a great mass of Daddy Longlegs were squashed like silverfish onto the page. Okay. Not so pleasant but you get the picture.

And my teachers hated it.

I knew it was detrimental for my academic performance. I knew it meant I probably had an unprecedented level of poor motor control skills. And, let’s admit it, I knew that I didn’t make that much of an effort to alter or change my handwriting out of that pure, rebellious spite rooted inside most people in their teenage years.

But, and I swear over my great grandmother’s dead body (I never understood such expressions. I mean, if I break my promise, what’s the worst that can happen? Will my ancestors rise from their graves and shamble about like zombies to murder me?) that I couldn’t help it.

I mean, sure, I could force myself to write neatly. But in doing so, I felt as if some part of me was being suffocated and the pen felt stiff and wrong in my hand. And it was a conscious effort.

This meant that if I had an idea and wanted to plaster it onto the paper quick-split, all hopes of writing neatly went out the window.

My teachers hated my handwriting. I would lose marks simply because a word here or there was illegible to them, even though I could read it just fine. I was jealous of the ramrod straight calligraphy of my friends.

But, as I’ve grown older, I’ve embraced my scrawled, often illegible penmanship as an extension of me and who I am. This might be reading too deeply into things, but I feel like my handwriting reflects the nonconformist and unorthodox person I am. Or think I am. You may beg to differ.

Isn’t that what conformity is all about? Making sure you write between the lines. Making sure your letters are formed nicely. Making sure there are no wayward loops. Making sure everyone is crisp and neat and polite.

I’m not trying to say people who have neat handwriting are conformists. If you do have neat handwriting, you are blessed – many a time have I been judged harshly for my writing. They seemed to reflect a disordered nature to other people, screaming pejoratives such as undependable, untidy, scatterbrained. I’m saying the way teachers yelled at me throughout school for expressing who I was through my penmanship is a metaphor for how society forces people to conform.

I should be happy with my untidy scrawls because they are a reflection of me and my personality. I know I should spruce it up a little when I definitely need it to be legible but, hey, I shouldn’t force it all the time and hate myself for not having immaculate handwriting. It’s not the enormous flaw the education system seemed to tell me it was.

Besides, I find my ideas flow better when I indulge in my natural handwriting tendencies. And, as a ‘writer’, that’s all that matters.

PS (yes, I realise this isn’t a letter): Is one’s handwriting related to personality? Just found out that, apparently, there are these people who analyse handwriting for a living. How cool of a job is that? Dear any graphologists who are reading this: feel free to analyse my scribbles. I’m always fascinated about alternative methods of inferring a person’s character.

– Dreamerrambling