Ayamba Tangban: When I write, I do it with my whole being
It's a Wednesday and celebrating amazing young women is essential on days like this #wcw.
Ayamba Tangban is a storyteller who believes that it is a rare and exquisite gift when a person wields a pen in a way that is mightier than a sword. At the age of sixteen, she was certain about two things. The first was her love for children, which led me to pursue and acquire a master’s degree in school counseling. The second was the sheer desire to put words together and to breathe life into them in a way that cuts hearts asunder.
When I write, I do it with my whole being. And I hope in some way, it alters, validates, and evokes emotions in whoever reads it.
"Like Virginia Woolf said, “so long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say.” For me, I want to matter, whether it is through poetry, modeling, fashion, or storytelling. I have a blog called theayamba.com, where I uninhibitedly express myself. It is the only way I know how to live."
How did you get started with writing?
... I love words, the texture, the feel of them, and how they look on paper. I fell in love with words somewhere in middle school. While in boarding school, I kept little journals about my mischiefs, the boys I fancied, and the people who made me feel weary. Somehow, my roommates always found these journals and shared them with anyone available to gossip. Since I was not good at hiding my journals, I decided to share them the best way I knew how, through poetry. I was taciturn growing up, and I didn’t know how to establish close relationships. The only way I could let people in without revealing too much of myself was through writing.
I always tell people, to write well, you have to read well. Growing up, I was a bibliophile; my head was always in books. I was constantly dreaming and fantasizing about a world different from what I was used to. Before I ever traveled out of the country, I wrote it a thousand times in my head; I wrote it into existence. These days I don’t read as much as I would love, but I find time to write down my thoughts. Once in a while, I can be found in the poetry aisle of a book store, seated on the floor, my head once again buried in pages.
What kind of content do you write about?
Think about writers like Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf, who even in death are still some of the greatest writers and poets. They showed me that you can write about anything as long you are completely passionate about it. It’s why I write about love, loss, pain, and the act of letting go. My work is full of melancholy with a hint of madness. I’m always tethering on the edge of, “will she love the main character or will she make him the villain just to save face.”
Sometimes, I wonder why I don’t write about more important topics like feminism, politics, or climate change. But I think about Michael Faudet whose pen is sexier than the sword and Lang Leav who takes you on a journey of self-discovery, and I feel more comfortable in the space I have created for myself.
How do you draw inspiration in writing?
I am a huge empath. The world is my canvas and the way people feel inspires me. I like to write about the stranger having a good day or having a terrible day because his lover just left him. If there’s an emotion to be felt, then I can put myself in the shoes of another, feel their pain, their joy, and their laughter. That’s where the inspiration comes from. It’s not easy, some days I am so drained because I feel too much too soon, or I feel nothing at all. But when I feel something, I write it down so it doesn’t disappear.
Can you give three writing tips?
People say pain makes for the best art. If you look at my work you’ll know I agree. But you can be in love and still write about pain. You can be in pain & still write about happiness. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Most often, as writers, we tell ourselves that we have to feel connected to our words for them to matter. But there are days when you won’t understand what you have written. Trust that at that moment, the words are not for you. Birth them out & let it touch the one it is meant for, in touching them, it will touch you too.
Finally, if you hear a word you like, write it down. If you see a movie and one of the characters drops a one-liner, write it down. Keep writing down the phrases, sentences, and gibberish you hear or read about. In your free time, create meaning out of them in a way that is unique to you but pays homage to those who inspired you.
Are you a fashion enthusiast?
Yes, I am. My mom said growing up as a mini human, I’d wear about 10 clothes & put on a fashion show at home. I’m known at home as the girl who wore white socks on red sandals and I wasn’t afraid to walk up and down the street to make sure everyone saw it (even though I was ill). I dressed as the queen of England to church in middle school. I also made my hair into the shape of an ice cream cone. And for a long time, I had a Michael Jackson phase ( Black gloves, big chain, sunglasses, white socks, the whole nine). My poor high school boyfriend at the time had to put up with my antics for the sake of young love.
These days, my taste in fashion is more refined. I rarely do trends, I love consistency even in fashion. I think some of the best pieces of dress wear are those that have withstood the test of time.
How do you choose your daily outfits?
No matter how badly I’m feeling, I must always look good. Fashion should never have to suffer because of a bad mood. I am a huge Pinterest fan, I go on there to source inspiration. I prefer dresses to jeans because they are easier to wear. So I’m most likely always going to be found in a dress for a daily chic look.
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Fashion page: @Theayamba