“I write only because
There is a voice within me
That will not be still.”
— Sylvia Plath, “You Ask Me Why I Spend My Life Writing”
That pretty much sums everything up for me. NOW. But until I was able to sum everything up in this sentence, which I gladly steal from Sylvia Plath, it was a long and winding road.
I started writing, when I was 12 years old, and I believe, I did it to escape my unhappy childhood home. It opened a room for me, in which I could be somebody else. So I started writing basically, because I wanted to be a writer, which was basically somebody, or maybe even some thing, nobody in my entire family of workers, drinkers, housewifes and farmers had ever been in touch with. Writers were probably not even people. But if they were, they lived far far away from our home, indulged in a lazy and worthless lifestyle. I loved it, and definitely wanted to be just that. There was no book in our house, but the ones, I started buying with my pocket money. I spent all my pocket money on books. I spent every afternoon in the bookstore close to my school. The first book I bought was Anne Franks diary, which definitely belongs on my list of books one should read before one dies. I was so touched by her writing, that I started my first diary right after finishing hers, and for years, I would start every entry with "Dear Anne", like she started every entry with "Dear Kitty". In my imagination, Anne Frank became my soulmate, my best friend, the person, I confided in all my yearnings and complaints. I started writing it to escape, and also to be somebody as far away as possible from my home. While trapped in my childhood for basically seven more years, I mutated into somebody famous and smart every night in my room at my desk The revelation came quickly to me, that I loved sitting at a desk, that I could become quite attached to books, notebooks, pencils. I even started spending lots of time in the schoollibrary, reading and writing about what I read, and I decided then and there, that I would study philosophy in order to be able to read and write about it some more. I dreamed myself to Paris and became a close friend of Camus, Sartre and de Beauvoir. I am really not a friend of laptops or computers, though I use them now, because its practical. Especially if you tend to write a lot.
I had the dream to be published to become famous, rich even. I wanted to be like Simone de Beauvoir, Ingeborg Bachmann, I wanted to live a bohemian lifestyle and until I was 25, I didnt even mind to kill myself, or burn in my own bed, because my cigarette fell on my pillow, and the bed caught fire, and I was too drunk to notice until stone dead. I didnt mind the idea of becoming famous after my famous death, because of it. Well I was totally in love with the image of any female desperate writer, I drank their biographies, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton.... I was ready to dive deeply into human sadness and write about it. I think, I changed my mind about dying tragically, when I was almost 30. I mean I never actually did anything to endanger myself, besides smoking a lot and drinking a bit too much. It was just the idea of a tragic life, that intrigued me, not the actual living of it. I never was the true type for stress and suffering. So I survived totally unharmed, and had my first encounter with buddhism, which actually happened through writing. I stumbled across a book by Natalie Goldberg about writing and buddhism, and the day I started reading it, I also started meditating. I did it on Anne-Maries Sofa in Richmond. I sat superuncomfortable on a sofa cushion, but immediately heard my own voice, I mean, really heard my own voice for the first time, while sitting there and struggling with the cushion, which was too soft to sit on really.
From then on, I sat often, and I listened to the stupid babbling of my own voice a lot, and I decided, that I didnt want a tragic life after all. I wanted to be happy and content. I stopped writing for a while, but I always wrote into a diary. I filled 146 volumes so far and I will probably destroy them, before my daughters find them, and find out, you know, well, that I am not always as interesting and deep and smart, as I want them to believe. I mean, not that they wouldnt know that anyway, but the idea of them reading all those stupid entries, and finding proof for my shortcomings, makes me blush head to toes. But stupid or not, I cant stop writing. It came back after years of just diaries, and it became more and more a record of that inner voice. The more I meditated, the more I listened to my voice, the more I had to write.
I really believe, we dont meditate to still our inner voice, but to truly understand it, because all our inner voices do is, tell us everything about life we need to know.
© Susanne Becker