The greatest power a human has is that of self-expression and to me as a woman writing is the most potent means to own that power. Say I am happy, I get a huge kick out of being able to clearly define whether it’s just cheerful or absolutely rapturous; if I am sad – is it plain unhappy or downright heartbroken. The degree is very crucial.

So each day I write, I am buoyant, and the days I don’t, I feel weighed down by a load of unsaid and unshed thoughts. Today it could be my own personal struggles with a deep void in my life tomorrow it could be a harsh statement on the general state of affairs that touch a chord.

I get a huge kick out of being able to clearly define whether it’s just cheerful or absolutely rapturous; if I am sad – is it plain unhappy or downright heartbroken. The degree is very crucial.

The pen is definitely mightier than the sword and I have felt that power, right from the days of Mandal agitation, when I had written a tiny “Letter to the editor” to express my teenage angst, and it got published in India Today (I still have a photocopy of that one paragraph with me). To actually see my words of protest in print, to hear aunties say “arre wah Gunjan beta tumhara naam India Today mein aaya hai,” to be able to go one step ahead of the students’ rally that I had been a part of had filled me with a sudden awareness of the hidden potential of the unassuming metaphorical pen. Yes guys, just one paragraph!

As a reader of that powerful written word, I distinctly remember getting goosebumps when my Hindi teacher first read out the poem Pushp ki Abhilasha in class, I must have been nine or something. The last lines moved me so deeply that I marvel at the effect of that simple statement to this day. It was the same when I first read The Gift of Magi in my CBSE English book. As a little girl, all I wanted to do was go meet O Henry, shake his hand and tell him what an absolutely wonderful story he had written. My other secret wish then had been to someday be able to write a similar story.

Eventually, I began devouring newspapers and magazines in my quest to pursue journalism as a profession marvelling sometimes at the simplicity at others at the lucidity of the complex cover stories and crisp edits.

As a little girl, all I wanted to do was go meet O Henry, shake his hand and tell him what an absolutely wonderful story he had written.

Today, prodded by such writing, I can say with some pride that I am truly on that path to self-expression and it’s the journey — from letters to the editor to cub reporting to feature writing to edit pages to articles in expat magazines to blogging, interviews, opinion pieces, book reviews and now short story writing too – that is an empowering experience in itself.

To be able to convey my support for #MeToo or my disgust with a society that lets an episode like Nirbhaya happen; to be able to voice my opinion on politics or pollution, education or ethics, women’s rights or world affairs; to be able to express my thoughts vividly as a teenager’s mom or as an expat on various online platforms or a short story writer in Write & Beyond gives me the power to make a difference.

As mere individuals haven’t we often rued our inability to “do something” when significant events happen by simply tsk-tsking and condemning the state of affairs sipping our morning tea. Well, writing has given me that tool to stand out, take charge and make my voice heard. It’s cathartic and invigorating all at once. That good writing requires good reading is a bonus which prods me constantly to look out for other expressive, explosive and inspiring writers.

Writing has given me that tool to stand out, take charge and make my voice heard. It’s cathartic and invigorating all at once.

Psychologists have proven that self-expression is one of the best ways to connect, navigate and grow as significant changes happen within us when “our world view is validated publicly.” According to Dale Carnegie, “Self expression is the dominant necessity of human nature,” and writing to me, “is the art of discovering my beliefs!”

Gunjan Pant is a free spirit struggling to own her space while trying to live up to her tattoo, in the meantime, she blogs, spins stories, travels, reads, paints, cooks, makes friends and more often than not smiles. Her first published short story ‘Nannhi Munni’ appeared in the anthology Escape Velocity.

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