To my observer self,
Since you seem so adamant about denying me an existence within your marrow, I will address you as one separate from me. Independent, unattached to the hand guiding this pen. I will unravel the threads that join us. For when I am putting words on paper, you vanish. And in your absence I find the space to miss you, to long for your naivety and wide eyes. Truly, I am just a vessel: a vase waiting to be filled by the dreams you have while I slumber. I sing a lullaby of your own making. Or, maybe I am belittling myself. Call me…a translator. Yes, that's how I would like you to picture me. An investigator, a decoder.
This long preamble is all to say: stop asking me questions. I have received all your letters. They sit in piles scattered across my office: an archive of all the ways your doubts slip into the verses I transcribe every night. See? In your letters you call me a writer, but I am not worthy of that title. My work is mechanical: arranging your experience of the world into an easily recognisable system. The writer you call for is nothing but your heartstrings, your predisposition to the subjective.
Allow me to prove my point. You often write that your passion for storytelling began on the second floor of a small library in your hometown. You were just a kid, sitting on a dirty rug in a circle listening to the librarian tell tales about emperors, silk, and princesses. You first picked up a pen and a notebook because of the possibility of creating for yourself the worlds you escaped to. But I know that story, even after you have forced me to carefully transcribe it, to be a lie.
The truth is here, in the scrapped versions, in my failed attempts to translate your actual feelings. In my discarded drafts, you are not even listening to the tales. You are not even looking at the librarian or the piles of books around you. Between the wrinkles and ink stains of my pages, I catch you watching the rain. That was it, wasn't it? Something about the way the water cascaded down the window, about the fact you couldn't touch it. Was it the feeling of being an observer? The slightly painful, perfectly lonely, incandescently warm feeling? Am I making you understand?
Creation does not start at the page. In fact, it doesn't even start with language. It starts with the way you taught yourself to breathe, to move through the complexities of existence. You notice the changing of the seasons, the dissipation of the morning mist and the couple walking hand in hand down the street. You take it all in as if those were versions of yourself. That's why you beg for a writer, isn't it? You need someone to carry the weight of the emotions you take it upon yourself to tend to. To describe and pass down as family heirlooms. But writing is nothing but a way of seeing: the way you turn your head slightly when someone laughs in a café; how you always smile when a butterfly flutters along your path; or when walking downhill, listening to music, you suddenly have to close your eyes to avoid bursting into tears.
What I'm trying to make you see is that writing is not the mastery with which you arrange the words. It's not alliteration, metaphor or synesthesia. Writing is standing at a threshold between all that life is and all that it could be. Writing is standing at a threshold and deciding not to move.
So, please, don't expect me to have the answers. The writer is not me, but your shadow on a bedroom wall. Don't worry about me. Don't worry about my process. It's secondary and self-improving. It's nothing. It's only everything because you can look at an orange peel and feel infinite.
Your humble translator
Julia Vaz is a Metro editor covering the environment and crime and justice beats. She is a sophomore from Brazil studying Political Science and Literary Arts.