I talked to a friend not long ago about my thoughts on being a writer. It may have come up after being asked something along the lines of why I haven’t put everything on hold so I can promote my works. Whatever the case, my answer was simple: “I’m a writer first.”
The look of confusion is what prompted me to provide a more detailed explanation.
I consider social media as a way to send out virtual messages in a bottle every night via twitter and Instagram. I’m doing my best to post a vlog when able and even though I try to post a monthly blog, balancing 10 hour work days makes it a struggle. Writing a blog to me is like writing a journal that is being shown to the world. It’s not just a thought or two tossed into the world wide web. It’s an expression of what I feel, think and hope for. It’s a way for an introvert like myself to share what’s going on between my ears.
I didn’t always see myself as a writer.
I doubted myself. Lots. I struggled for years as I worked long hours, tried different hobbies and did my best to hold onto something that made me happy. Drawing. Designing. Sculpting. Video editing and recording became wonderful outlets for my creative expressions, but inevitably they were all too hard to maintain and I left them behind.
In the end, I gave up on all of it. After one discouraging comment too many, I let it all go and descended into a daily work routine. Paying bills and living a “Normal” life became my new routine. I soon watched helplessly as all my passions dried up until I found myself working at a job that had no future while surrounded by co-workers, rather than friends and family.
It was at this time that I ran across a website promoting a writer’s challenge in November. I took up the challenge after my 40th birthday when I made myself a Jib Jab card that joked about getting old, going to the doctor, being out of shape, failing to accomplish your dreams and not writing a book.
It was funny.
I liked it at the time and chuckled at the humor. Unfortunately, I also hated the truth it held. I was a “one day” novelist. I was going to write a book “One day” and deep down inside I knew that day was never going to happen.
Seeing that challenge set for November, I decided to try one last time. I would rather have tried my best and failed than never to have tried. I was already spending my life in regret so I worked up my courage and decided once and for all, that if enough of the old passion was still inside me, I would meet the challenge. I told myself that for once in my life I was going to sink or swim. No matter the consequences, I was going to face that 30 day challenge in November and truly give it my all.
So at the end of November in 2008, I discovered two things:
First, I was subconsciously sabotaging myself at every turn.
Second, I wasn’t kidding about giving it my all.
I wrote the book in first person. My preferred point of view is third person, so I was out of my comfort zone from the beginning. I wrote only during breaks at work, meaning I had only two fifteen minute gaps in the day to write. The weekends were my catch-up times and by the end, I barely made the 50,000-word goal.
Despite the struggles, I did what I said I would. I wrote a book. I may be wrong in the following statement, but for now, it holds true. When I finished that first book and felt the finished story take shape within my mind, for the first time in my life, my imagination and dreams became real.
That last day of November became the most important moment of my life.
I rediscovered my passion for writing. It didn’t matter how good or bad the book was. What mattered was what I discovered within myself. It was a discovery of purpose and belonging. It was a feeling of peace, as if a great longing I had been trying to find had at last appeared and I knew what I wanted to do with my life. This also brought forth a realization.
I have always been a writer.
I spent my life dreaming up stories and searching for ways to put them down. I’ve told stories using sculptures and illustrations as well as photography and video. Stories have always been a constant companion. They have always been my passion. I can only assume that it was fate that led me to find the writing challenge. The stories I once feared would fade away inside me are once more alive and well in my waking dreams.
I hope to refine and improve on my method so as to share those tales with others.
So on Thanksgiving day, I am thankful. Thankful for my friends who encouraged me to follow my dreams even when I wasn’t sure they were possible. Thankful to NaNoWriMo for the challenge they posed. Thankful to my family, distant and far removed, but always in my heart.
Lastly, I am thankful to Mugwai. My dearly departed cat, who inspired me with her presence and who gave me the companionship I yearned for without realizing how much she meant to me it until she was gone.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone seeking their purpose and following their dreams. May you all find your passions. I hope you also have friends, family and companions standing by you to help you through the difficult times and celebrate your achievements.