Who I am as a writer
I am an award-winning multilingual writer currently living in Munich, Germany, close to the Alps. Since 2004, I’ve been regularly publishing my work — poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and everything in-between — both online and in print in several countries (US, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, and Romania) and languages (English, German, and Romanian).
For details about my publications, go here.
While the writing itself has always been fun — I love revision! — submitting creative work has at times been a gruelling process; not only due to the usual anxiety unavoidably associated with sending my writing into the world and hoping that it will resonate with someone else, but also because it has been (more often than not) difficult to place it in one specific genre.
When hearing that I am a writer, people would ask me: so what kind of stuff do you write?
For a long time, I’ve had trouble answering this question. The closest thing to the truth that I could generally offer was prose poems. However, no magazine has so far officially called my poems prose poems, and I’ve also authored texts that lie somewhere between prose poetry and lyrical essay that have been published as stories. To add to the confusion, many of my essays follow the route map of a story and have been published as flash fiction.
It is only in recent years that I came to know that what I was doing naturally had a name: hybridity. And it wasn’t that uncommon, actually. Many writers with nonbinary belongings were writing like this. So now, when I submit creative work, I look at how experimental a certain journal is. And the answer to the question (what do you write?) has changed too.
Now, I just say: I write everything. Really, everything? Yes, everything.
The text chooses its form, I don’t artificially go searching for it; instead, I allow it.
Hybrid writing beyond borders
Above all, I believe in the need to write freely, giving voice to who we really are, and to go beyond real or imagined borders; to write outside our comfort zone; to write boldly, while the fear remains present. We all have boundaries and borders, both internal and external:
- geographical borders that may limit our access to travelling, to moving, to publishing
- binary belongings that are imposed from outside and that we don’t identify with
- genre constraints that may feel at times artificial to our natural writer’s voice
- tabu topics that we were taught not to talk about and that bring us shame.
But our writing is more than our limitations; our limitations may at times define who we are, but they are not what we have the power to create and become.
Ignoring them or pretending that they are not there wouldn’t be very wise, however I think that through our art, through our writing, we can go beyond them.
Words are powerful;
they spark ideas and challenge established ways of thinking and being in the world.
Censors know this better than most of us. Speaking of censors, Munich or Germany isn’t where I was born or spent my childhood.
I grew up in a country where censorship had been a daily reality for decades. German isn’t first my first language. English isn’t either. Yet I write in both, and sometimes, in between.
After many years of moving across countries and continents in search of a home,
I found one in language.
“If place is a language, then without countries we would be a new kind of poetry.”
– Mother Winter, Sophia Shalmiyev
The free voice
I write because I love to write. I write to (re)connect, to myself and to the world. I write to break the silence, the silencing, and the void of forgetfulness.
There was a time when I used to see my writing as something very private. I was imitating writers I liked but did not trust my own voice. I did not know my own voice. I was ashamed of my own voice. Or I wanted to have my voice seen and heard more than I wanted it to be truly mine, first of all.
I was trying to turn it into something that would please my imaginary or real readers but not necessarily myself. I wasn’t allowing it to be me, because I wasn’t me just yet.
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” – Maya Angelou
“To gain your own voice, forget about having it heard.” – Allen Ginsberg
“Finding my voice as a writer was kind of like telling the hunting dog that was my talent: ‘Go, boy!’. And what he brought back was the lower half of a Barbie doll. But it was MY lower half of a Barbie doll.” – George Saunders
“This is my voice. There are many like it, but this one is mine.” – Shane Koyczan
When I now struggle with writing block, I know that it doesn’t really exist, that there’s actually a living block behind it, an unwillingness to live in my truth, because my truth may at times challenge or scare me in ways that I am not yet ready to face.
I believe that our voice is our true power, and all we have to do is let it out. Its sound may scare us at first. It may feel uncomfortable. It may not feel like our own. But the more we let it out, the more we will learn to listen to it and pay attention: what is trying to articulate?
When we write about something that feels dangerous but has the power to move, to shift ideas and beliefs, to expand our understanding of the world, we’re close to being real. I want my writing to be real.
This is my voice. There are many like it, but this one is mine.