Personal Narrative: Myself as a Writer

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 957 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Dec 16, 2021

Words: 957|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Dec 16, 2021

What happened was that I had writer’s block. The soaring success of my short story “On Love and Forgiveness” had inspired my publisher to offer me more books, more deadlines, the very ticking time bombs that I first escaped in law. I used to wake up to think of words, to want to walk through pages of meanings, the links in assonance, alliteration, or just the simple sense that moves the eye to leap that way to the next-door play of sound and resonance. My words were now tied to monetary cost, the drip-drip-drip of coins clinking into my childhood piggybank, my searchlight writer’s voice now blaring in my face.

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However, by willingly confronting the darkest recesses of my being, I feared losing a precarious grip upon eroding sanity. By writing myself into an experimental state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion, I feared experiencing the wilting of personal endurance to face another day of introspective examination. I knew all too well from my experiences with my father that one-step too far into the pitch-dark underworld of deconstructive self-scrutiny and a person might not survive.

The library would've cheered me up, most days. I could already smell the books' muskiness and in my mind turned over pages with as many differing textures as a forest; pages that were brittle and fragile which had to be coaxed to turn; pages that were soft and scented, presenting their words as if the were a gift in the palm of a hand, and pages that fell open heavily of their own accord as if weighted by the importance of their message. But now my deadline was in two days, and I could not sit in a catacomb of words, ignoring the almost audible rustling of desire- the desire every book has to be taken down and read, to live, to come into being in somebody's mind.

Instead, I confined myself to my apartment, sat down at my table and demanded that my mind ignore the acridity in the pit of my stomach. Dust was sleeping on my bookshelf and all my plants were drying out beside my table. Coffee rings on my bedside table, anxiety pills under my pillowcase, working round the clock to meet the whooshing sound of deadlines passing by. There was no time for breakfast these days. Friends hadn’t seen me in a while, my phone was always out of reach and I was slowly forgetting to smile. As others grew more intelligent under stress, I grew heavy, as if I were an animal on a chain.

I remembered that it was only after two years' work in the humdrum the corporate world that it occurred to me that I was a writer. I had no particular expectation that the story would ever be published, because it was sort of a mess. It was only when I found myself writing things I didn't realise I knew that I said, 'I'm a writer now.' The story had become an incentive to deeper thinking. That's really what writing was at the time — an intense form of thought.

Yet now, faced with a blank slate — a page, a canvas, a block of stone or wood, a silent musical instrument — my mind was blank. Blank as a new sheet of paper, blank as a starless sky.

I tried to picture a future reader for my output so as to take my cues from him. My themes were utterly foreign to him, indeed the whole environment I conjured up before his eyes could only seem abstruse and outlandish, as though I sought to transport him to a world that, though familiar to him from earlier times, now seemed thrust to the margins, so that no previously valid form of description could be used for it.

I wrote for an utterly impossible reader, for one reader alone, and that reader was myself.

I looked inside myself. I pulled and tugged and squeezed and fished around for slippery raw shapeless things that swan like fish made of cloud vapor and filled me with living clamor. I visualised my hope - delicate, slim, precise, like a paper-thin slice from a cabochon jewel - dissipating. It was like I was a jar with the lid screwed on too tight, and inside the jar were pickles, angry pickles, and they were fermenting, and about to explode.

I pushed my hands into my eyes wearily and looked outside, the tall ghost gum leaning towards my bedroom window as if to offer me comfort. Trees had long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they had longer lives than ours. As I stood uneasily before my own childish thoughts, I dredged up an old psychology trick, one my shrink had passed onto me: “Try speaking about yourself in the third person”.

To myself I spoke, my mind becoming softer, kinder, when filtered through narrative distance.

“Oh sweet boy, you are so overwhelmed by life. You feel so pressed down sometimes, by all the information you are supposed to process and hold, by the urgency of things. You are exhausted, sweet one, exhausted from all the trying and the not trying, and you are struggling to trust life again. Is this a step back? A regression? Or is it an opportunity to regroup, start over, and move in a different direction?”

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I opened my eyes and envisioned my story, one about small words and big ideas, a writer struggling with the creation half of the cosmic routine. And as it came out, it took shape and tangible form. It dripped on the canvas, and slid through my pen, it sprung forth and resonated into the musical strings, and slipped along the edge of the sculptor’s tool onto the surface of the wood or marble. I gave my life cohesion.    

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Oliver Johnson

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Personal Narrative: Myself As A Writer. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
“Personal Narrative: Myself As A Writer.” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021,
Personal Narrative: Myself As A Writer. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 May 2024].
Personal Narrative: Myself As A Writer [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Dec 16 [cited 2024 May 26]. Available from:
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