When it comes to writing, what I struggle with the most is confidence. After studying English literature at university, I should recognise the strengths in my writing, but fear of rejection has often held me back. I think that this is a struggle for most writers, particularly those who are creatively inclined. To put something that is so deeply ingrained in your being on to paper is difficult enough, but the fear that others may dislike it can unleash torrents of self-doubt.
I think this struggle is amplified for female writers; it feels appropriate to quote Warsan Shire from her poem ‘For Women Who are Difficult to Love‘. Female voices are often expected to be ‘softer, prettier, less volatile, less awake’. As a woman, and as an aspiring writer, it feels like it has been for too long that my voice has been subdued. Sometimes, I want my writing to be messy and turbulent; I do not always want to be an easy read.
There is something about the feeling that we are ‘difficult’ that seems to plague women. We are ‘too intense’, we are ‘a handful’, we are ‘too much’. I’m not saying that men cannot feel this too; intensity of emotion is not a strictly feminine trait. But when it comes to feeling that we are ‘difficult’, like the earth or the moon, there is something innately female about it. Perhaps it is the feeling of displacement, of not fitting into patriarchal expectations, that makes women feel this way. Whatever it is, it should not stop their voices from being heard.
Of course, I don’t think this is about putting one voice before another. It is about elevating the voices we so often neglect, and allowing space for them to be heard. When it comes to writing, it is our duty to open up platforms for all voices and to make sure to listen to others’ perspectives.
The truth is, that writing is a lot like being; not everyone is going to like the way that you come across. But this should not matter. As writers, we should be confident in our own abilities and in the value of what we have to say. As readers, we should be listening to and validating more voices, no matter how ‘difficult’ they are to hear.