When I started writing this paper, I didn’t know what exactly it was that I wanted to talk about. I guess we all have those moments in our lives –at least I frequently do– when you feel that you just have to let out something– but what is it? What exactly have I been thinking about? What were the dreams I was having before waking up and forgetting about them? What has been eating at me for a few days?
There comes this time when you’re used to writing a lot, and you sit at your breakfast table, mouth full of cereals, and suddenly it dawns on you: today I have to write about something, or else– what? I’m going to explode? No, no, it seems far too dramatic, you don’t feel that desperate. But either way something will happen if you keep quiet.
Now, if you’re a sensible person, you sigh and think, ‘I have other things to do with my life, like doing my homeworks, the laundry, cleaning a bit’, and you settle on not listening to your dramatic little self. Or, if you’re like me, you climb back into your bed, grab your computer and start to write.
I told you: I don’t know what to talk about. And you may have noticed that since the beginning of this essay, I haven’t talked substancially about anything. Then that’s settled: let’s write about not writing about anything.
It may seem vain, at first; well, it may seem vain for a very long time. As a highschooler, all I wanted to write about were complicated stories, novels with intricate plots and political messages, at least a hundred pages long — no matter I never completed any of those. What I did complete were small stories: my favourite characters hanging out, drinking some tea, looking at the stars, for instance. Or an elaborate, albeit synthetic, essay about an interesting villain. Or, from time to time, a piece featuring my friends, set in some ridiculous situation and written to make them laugh.
Looking back, it seems that I was writing about something, multiple things even. But bear in mind that my ambition was to write the novel that would shake the 21rst century, a new Les Misérables — harder, better, faster, gayer. (That last part was of primordial importance to me.) What I was writing seemed like nothing of importance. It seemed like it was about nothing at all. Who cared about two Hetalia characters having a slumber party? Who cared about my little fantasies of friendship when Monuments™ were being written?
The answer surprised me: a lot of people seemed to care. I had published my stories (all fanfictions at this time) on websites, and they had had some success! I had even had a few dithyrambic reviews, some of them that made me cry (because I was in high school and desperate for attention, as one does). It seemed that what I considered to be nothing ended up being something.
And that was when my writing started to change: I stopped being self-conscious of caring about the details, the little things no one else remarks and no one else wants to talk about. I stopped wanting to write for other people to be awed, and I started to write for me, things that made me happy. The fact that I had been writing on the Internet for about two years was freeing: before that, I had mostly been writing for people to be proud of me. My parents, my grandmother. None of these ‘real life people’ were interested in my fanfictions. The only person in my life that knew about my fanfictions was me. The only person that could be proud of me was me.
And as I found out, I was the only one that could write these stories the exact way I needed to read them. The only person that could help me enjoy those little things, those little nothings, was me.
I believe writing about ‘nothing’ is important. As well as talking about ‘nothing’ with your friends, or watching videos you already watched 15 times. You need to take it slow. You need to vent sometimes. Not everything has to be of crucial importance. In fact, life is made of sweet nothings. No one lives like a YA novel hero all the time, focused on a task, a duty to save the universe. The consumption society urges us to always live more, want more, ask for more, (pay for more). But I believe we have overlooked a simple truth: humans are not meant to live grandiloquently.
We find solace in little things. We find solace in nothings. They seep through our cracks and make life worth living. Walking down a pavement and noticing a flower coming out of a drain: this is life. Reading the Little Prince and crying about the snake: this is life. Laying down next to a friend in silence for two hours and finding comfort in their breath pattern: this is life. Realizing you still know the words of a song: this is life.
And as I finish writing this article, I notice that I finally let out what I needed to say. I still don’t know exactly what is was– surely, nothing of great importance. But it feels good, having it written down. And maybe it feels good to have read it, too. Maybe it’s not that much of a nothing after all.