Wednesday, May 31, 2017
“Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” – Ambrose Redmon
Fear is an impulse. “Fear is the mind killer.” Frank Herbert wrote that. So you can’t stop being afraid, but you can fight fear, you can control it.
I don’t think I ever told you how I became a writer. Or how I almost lost my love of writing.
First I’ll tell you about how I became a writer. It happened on a cold, dark, stormy night … (sorry that’s the writer in me!) I had an imaginary friend when I was growing up (I believe that friend was my protector. I’m not sure why) but my mom would tell me “it’s ok to have an imaginary friend. It means you have a good imagination.”
It was that ‘friend” I wrote about, she was a little girl, around 12 or 13 years old. About the same age I was at the time. She was having these dreams, about another time, another place, as though ‘I’ was actually living it. That I remember. And I even gave my story a title. “The Dreams.”
It was supposed to have been this really long series, and there were other people in this story, people whom are very close to me, and they played a really important role in the stories.
Of course, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but maybe that’s one of two requirements for doing anything in life: you’re either brave enough to do it or so stupid that you don’t have a clue about what you’re getting yourself into.
So I wrote. And I wrote. And so on.
I thought it was great. I really did. I never even stopped to ask myself what I was supposed to do with all the stuff that I wrote. I just knew that things were going to work out.
I guess that’s how people think when they feel they have a calling.
A few months later I let a few close friends and an older cousin read my story. Not one of them liked it. Not even one bit. My cousin said “I was either a retard or 14 years old.” (I guess I was both.)
And I was angry. At first because they couldn’t see how brilliant I thought the story was, and then because I thought that I would never become who I wanted to be.
That’s when I started reading. The first book I read was Dune by Frank Herbert. After I finished it, I wanted to write something just as good. I just wanted to make someone feel the same way that novel made me feel.
So I kept writing. It didn’t matter that no one read my stories.
Some stories I never finished. Others, never even got the chance to be written. I just imagined them, played around with the idea, the characters for a while, and then I’d sit down and write about something else. Something much more interesting.
By writing all those stories, by reading all the books I could get my hands on, I learned how to write. That’s all it takes: you read and you write, and if you do it long enough, you’ll become a writer.
But there’s one more thing I learned by writing all those stories that no one ever read (sometimes I was afraid to read them as well, simply because I knew that I would realize they weren’t as good as I had thought them to be): I wrote just for the sake of writing. And I had a lot of fun.
Writing this or that story, not worrying about deadlines or whether or not people were going to like them.
I’m a writer because I write, because being a writer is what defines me, defines who I am and who I was and who I will be. And trust me, I wrote for all the reasons you can imagine. I wrote because I had to get those words out of my head, I wrote for fun, I wrote because it released me from things that held me down and because I wanted to make people cry or laugh. I wrote because I wanted to leave something behind, because I wanted a really long Wikipedia article about me (not really). I wrote for the love of writing. I wrote because I was heartbroken, I wrote because I knew no one was going to write my stories for me. I wrote because I was starving. I wrote because I was alone.
I wrote for the entire world, and I wrote for just one person. I wrote because I wanted my stories to make a dream come true, and I wrote because I hoped they would.
And the odd thing is that all those years I never hesitated, I never doubted the fact that I would, someday, become a writer.
And, yes, I did give up writing when I lost my mother, for a few days, for a few weeks, even for a few years. And, yes, I felt as if I didn’t have it in me anymore … I felt lost, not good enough. I had very little hope left in me when my mom passed. I doubted everything and anything!
I lost interest in writing. For a few years I didn’t write. Then one night I had an idea. Much like the way it happened when I wrote my first story … it just came to me. All of a sudden, I knew how to fix things. And I began re-writing this novel.
I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with it. I honestly didn’t know if it was worth the trouble again. And going down the traditional route … that seemed to be out of reach for someone who got torn apart so young …
In September 2013 I found out about Wattpad, an online community where a lot of aspiring writers upload their stories. I had rewritten the story I wrote as a very young girl. I also gave it a new title “In the Midnight of Dreams”
And I tried my luck, wanting to know if someone would like my story. And to my surprise, they did like it. Very, very much.
That’s all I needed. Not a million dollar advance, not Warner Bros. optioning the movie rights. Just someone telling me that they really liked my writing. It happened to turn out to be lot of “someone’s”.
So I wrote. And wrote. Pretty much like I never wrote before.
And you know what I learnt in all my years of writing?
All that matters are the words you write. Nothing else. When you do your thing, it doesn’t matter (and it shouldn’t) what others are going to think about it. When you write, you should stop worrying about whether or not people are going to like your story, whether or not someone’s going to read it, whether or not they’ll care. You should stop worrying whether or not you have something to say or you just want to say something, because you do have something to say. And it’s not about saying something that no one else ever thought of saying, but about saying it in your voice. And that’s something we all have.
Writing is all about finding the courage to write. And courage is all about realizing that some things are more important than fear.
As Andy Warhol once said, “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”
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A Love Of A Lifetime
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Youthful Musings: Poetry of Love and Loss
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