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.