It’s 2am and you’re sitting on your bed, pillow against your back, laptop dimmed and a blank document lies in front of you. Your family is asleep and your life at school floats to the back of your mind. There is a soft aching in your chest, where your heart should be but you no longer feel its presence. You look out the window and it’s pitch dark, with only the grids of office windows alight. They form a pattern in the night, so distortedly assembled yet silently rhythmic. The hurting travels from your heart up to your mind. You are tired of being human.
Maybe that’ll be the first line: i am tired of being human.
You type that out on your blank document. Every sound of your keyboard amplifies the pain of being here. You think about the next line. Something deep and profound about being alive and not really living, about wishing for death but not being able to pull the trigger, about love and lust and loss and all these human feelings with human words.
Yet, you find no words. You’re digging into yourself and tearing everything apart. Still nothing. You wonder if you’ve been empty all this time.
What they don’t tell you is that you're only hollow because you don’t recognize your flesh as your own. When you are filled monotonously from the bottom of your heart to the tips of your fingers it’s difficult to see colors. You want to let these feelings out, but you can’t do it at once.
Find the first thread, the first wisp of darkness, and exhale.
“The bigger the issue, the smaller you write. Remember that.” American novelist and screenwriter Richard Price has once said, “You don’t write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid’s burnt socks lying on the road. You pick the smallest manageable part of the big thing, and you work off the resonance.” And it’s not just for your readers — poetry is about moments, and how you make them immortal. In describing these moments, what do you want them to feel like? Words like love and hate are strong, but they’re weightless on their own. They’ve been assimilated and normalized into our everyday lives that it takes more than a word to move your readers. Is it love or is it you showing me colors I can’t see with anyone else; is it hate or is it you calling me up again just to break me like a promise, just casually cruel in the name of being honest (Illicit Affairs and All Too Well by Taylor Swift)? Make the happy instants feel like flying, the sad ones soul-crushing by describing the vector of those great words with textured imagery.
So it’s 3am and instead of some pretentious analogy about the helplessness of being human, go ahead and start with where you are in this moment. Across the barren street, that small square of office light — what do you see? Does it feel lonely that the specks of light outside are not a constellation but isolated dreams?
You put down a second line. And another, and another: i am tired of being human. a pyre of light, overcasted by ashes. but i’ll be in my brightest form, like a dying star, waiting for you to reach me. i’ll burn myself into a supernova, the stardust in your iron veins.
As E.B. White has said, “Don’t write about Man, write about a man.”
A few years ago, Taiwanese writer Yun-Fei Wang had begun using fiction as an escapism from the overwhelming sadness of being alive. Now that she's 16, falling deeper than ever, she can fortunately affirm that literature has been, is, and will be the only fragment of sanity in her life. Find her at a silent midnight, or at @immortalrainpoetry on Instagram.