Three Faces

Back in 2011 I won the Heading North Young Writers Competition and a place on panel of up and coming writers at the Byron Bay Writers Festival. At the time it was a pretty big achievement for me. I was twenty three years old and struggling to find my way in this world. I was living away from my family and partner so that I could try to pursue my writing dreams. I was broke, fragile and alone. But somehow a panel of judges managed to see through the muddled tale of woe I’d written and gave me an opportunity to shine. I was thrilled with the opportunity and told myself that this was my big break; that I was ready to take on the literary world…

…It was a definitely a break. Unfortunately it would be one that I’d fail to fully embrace before slipping into a harrowing low that saw me abandon writing altogether for a number a months. It was case of opportunity and talent colliding with sadness and sorrow. Unfortunately for me sadness and sorrow won.

So there I was sitting before an impressively large audience who had turned out to see me and two other writers interviewed on stage in a showcase to highlight the next big things in the local scene. I was trying my hardest to seem accomplished in my craft, but I couldn’t help but wonder just how the fuck I’d managed to win when an audience member asked if I had ever thought about starting a blog. Until that point I had never once considered running my own site, and promptly responded that I hadn’t because a blog was a very personal thing and I wasn’t prepared to expose myself like that. In hindsight the response was idiotic. You could see as much on the faces of those in the audience. I had this crazy idea that my writing life could be kept separate from my private life; when in reality the two were so intertwined that if I wanted to truly succeed as a writer I would need to learn to embrace both.

Why am I telling you this? Well, to make a long story short, I screwed up. I missed opportunities and thought that I could create success with nothing more than arrogance and a sliver of talent. It would take another four years before I’d actually see my debut novel put into print; and it would take a broken mind, bloody knuckles, and eventually acceptance of self before I could even begin to achieve. I’m only just beginning to make up for lost time and make a name for myself as a writer. And while many of my friends, family and followers believe that I have achieved a great deal as of late, the truth is that I have been busting my arse for nearly a decade just to get here. I have invested a great deal of time to my craft, and will continue to do so for years to come.

But I’ll let you in on a secret: the reason that I have managed to gain so much momentum as of late is because I finally figured out how to be a great writer. It turns out that it’s actually quite simple…

…You have to be naked.

Peel back the layers of your outer self and expose the vulnerability within. Remove your inhibitions, cut out your insecurities, be naked and set yourself free.

There’s an ancient Japanese proverb that says you have three faces. The first face, you show to the world. The second face, you show to your close friends and family. The third face, you never show anyone. It is the truest reflection of who you are. For the general public this adage holds true. We put on a façade and move through life leading the world to believe what we want it to. Then we choose to let a few select friends and family members inside our circles of trust and allow them see our second face. The face that we reserve for those that we trust contains blemishes and insecurities, but as we grow comfortable with our loved ones we afford them the opportunity to glimpse the minor fragilities of this intricate canvas of ourselves. But it’s the third face, the one that we shield from the world that we really need to embrace if we are to be truly free.

It’s this face that you need to be prepared to show the world if you want to succeed as a great writer. This face is completely naked, vulnerable, and utterly beautiful. But for some bizarre reason it’s one that so many of us are afraid to reveal. It was this face that I was so afraid of exposing to the world when I said that blogging was too personal and that I wanted to differentiate my private life from my public one. It was this face that I would ultimately learn to be proud of and use to start finding momentum in my quest to create a career out of my passions.

So why are we so afraid to be vulnerable? Is it that we are scared of the judgement of our peers? Or is it that we are simply afraid to be free? We are so used to concealing the purest incarnations of our nature and desires that allowing ourselves the opportunity to be liberated from the faces we create to satisfy strangers appears daring and dangerous. But it is this art of removal, this art of extreme vulnerability that allows a writer, artist, man or woman to transcend beyond their inhibitions and be beautiful.  Look at any successful man or woman within the creative industries and every single one of them has one thing in common: they’re comfortable in their vulnerability. They can stand naked before the world and accept their imperfections as well as embrace their strengths.

So here I am standing before you, vulnerable and exposed in my nakedness. This blog allows me to remove the two faces that I have created for my family, friends and peers and be uncovered for all to see. You can see my strengths and flaws, and through embracing them I have become a far better writer than I ever dreamed possible. I’m naked, I’m vulnerable and I’m free. And you can be too. All you have to do is free your mind, remove your inhibitions and allow the world to experience the beauty of your soul stripped bare.

Be naked. Be beautiful. And be you. And if you do decide to open your soul for the world to see make sure you let me know. I’d love to meet the truest reflection of you.

Author: Chris Nicholas

Chris Nicholas is an author from Brisbane, Australia. He has published two novels, and is currently working on his third.

39 thoughts on “Three Faces”

  1. one of my short stories appeared in an ebook called ’24 naked bodies inside’ so I go with the metaphor

  2. I agree, but sometimes we can be lack of words to express what we really feel! Sometimes I feel like that!

  3. Aahhh this is so epic man, totally get your drift. Thanks for the like on my post.

    What an awesome story you have here. Vulnerability is just fascinating to me. Us humans seam to fear so much.

    All the best with your writing and life in general 🙂

  4. I agree with you essay, and yet, it no longer works for me.

    You ask, “why are we so afraid to be vulnerable? Is it that we are scared of the judgement of our peers? Or is it that we are simply afraid to be free?”

    It’s the fear of not just judgment but that your peers will disfigure your first face – not with critiques of style or form or theme, but questioning everything down to your DNA. They’ll encourage you to get naked and then point out the flabby spots and the blemishes, even as they proudly parade their open-sores and sagging bums.

    Julia Cameron calls them “creative monsters” and I sincerely wish I’d heard of them when I first started rising to one’s attention.

    So my third face – who I really am – is the face I wear when I write, concentrating only on the writing. The people who know that face are my first readers. When I publish, I put on the second face but over that I’m ready to slam on the first face, which isn’t really a face at all, but a dented and patched armour.

    (BTW If you do write naked, put a towel under your bum. There’s nothing quite like detaching yourself from a painted or varnished seat….)

    1. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could mesh – reconcile – the faces? I believe it’s possible… Not easy, but possible. This is what I am not just hoping for, but striving for. If writing isn’t honest, isn’t it then just words on a page? Your approach probably makes you a heck of a good writer, no doubt better than I’ll ever be; and kudos and thank you for the good towel advice!

    1. Hey Tessa. I really enjoy reading through your posts. Your honesty is bold and refreshing. I actually have a relative who is also living with BiPolar so I can really appreciate what you are producing. Thank you for sharing.

      1. Thank you Chris. I am delighted to hear that. I am delighted you enjoy my posts not that your relative suffers from Bipolar also. 🙂

  5. Vulnerability is a double-edged sword. With me, it isn’t my peers that scare me. It’s my family and unlikeables that do. It’s the people who are the closest or the most harmful who can do the most damage to me. I end up living a double life all because I love to write.

  6. Hi Chris, thank you for visiting my blog. I agree there is real beauty in authenticity and freedom in being who God created you to be. God bless your bold transparency in writing and life. 🙂

  7. As well Chris, thank you for the like on my blog. And wow, what great writer (yours)…
    but you didn’t miss the opportunity – you grew into the writer you are now! And being yourself, is the best opportunity! You still have more to share… I like turning old, as I’ve said, I’m just learning who I am truly am now!!

  8. My slight confusion gave way to a huge “Ohhhh” and a real liking for this post. Well done, Chris, and thanks again for visiting.

  9. Transparency is detrimental on a plethora of levels. It teaches us to accept who we are, and it helps others understand us more concisely. Coming from a cultural background of keeping quiet and always smiling, never let them see the real you… I realized I was raised to live a double-life. Nonetheless I’ve chosen to break tradition and let it ALL hang out. How free I feel!!! To share my pain, anxiety, and depression. Because its all apart of me. I’m naked when I write not even my brain is clothed. And it’s improved both my writing and my life. I love the freedom of Liberty. Thanks for the encouragement

  10. I believe you have hit the nail on the head, my friend. Shed the cloak of shame that separates the reader from the voice of your soul — and let that writing flow.

  11. Thanks for a honest and raw post Chris. I believe our vulnerability is from fear. Fear that of failure, fear of judgement, fear of being truly yourself. It’s hard to open yourself up completely. I think writing is such a personal experience, when you share your writing, you share a part of yourself with your readers.

  12. I love this post. I have just started blogging and there is definitely vulnerability in writing..keep doing what you do have real talent. Kudos !

  13. Hi
    Yep I really enjoyed reading this at least you give me courage to press on with my blog. I still worry about my daughter’s respond each time I write however I will eventually be like you be naked for all to see, be vulnerable, open myself to criticism. Thanks

  14. Hi Chris. Thanks for liking my Blog.
    Your article on three faces is very insightful. We all do hide part of ourselves from the world.
    It is a form of protection, I think and should not be necessary.

  15. Sometimes the inner face is so stiff from holding up and supporting the outer faces that it’s hard to get it to relax and see what the true shape is.

  16. Great article Chris. Writing is writing, whether a blog, writing in the sand, updating community website content, writing photo captions, or writing a full-blown novel. I hadn’t heard about the Japanese faces, but it sounds about right. You write well. Good luck with your future career in it. Have you considered vlogging as well. If not, check out Casey Neistat, who’s a visual story teller about subjects we all relate to.

  17. Fight for honesty! Keep at it! And as the cheesy, but still wildly poignant sign reads, Live well, Laugh often, Love much! (And thanks so much for your visit!)

  18. Thanks Chris, for checking my blog out. And thank you for the good advice, on showing that true me…I’m ready to let out my real true soul for the world to see. When i let myself go, when I drop my guard, that is when I write the most amazing compositions.

  19. Maybe, yes, maybe I should put my struggles getting undressed into a story. I thought I need to be naked to be able to write, but it is all about the way. Thank you for inspiration!

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