“I want to be a writer. What shall I do?”
“I want to be a writer. What shall I do?”
I know I’ve said I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Even when I didn’t know exactly what was required in order to be one. There are some reasons why I decided I would like to be a writer, but we don’t always do what we want to, do we?
First of all, I enjoy reading. Since I was little I was absolutely fascinated of how many new worlds, characters and adventures can be found inside a book. There were simply things I needed to know.
I needed to know what’s with The Wizard of Oz, a strange name from a strange country. I needed to know who is Heidi, a girl whose name I still haven’t got used to pronounce correctly, even after so many years of German. These were my first two books, and since then, I devoured each and every one I could find for my age, and was surprised to see how many stories are out there, waiting for you to live them through just some words printed on paper… I don’t know what made me start reading – maybe it was boredom, maybe curiosity, maybe a bit of both.
The experience of giving voice to your thoughts was shared with me by my father. He used to invent stories for me and my brother, and I never really understood how he was capable of coming with such magnificent characters, plots, surroundings, just from his head. I think I still don’t know how. But I remember me writing down in a few sentences and a few drawings what each ‘chapter’ was about. And that was my first encounter with taking notes of someone’s ideas, thoughts and imagination. Why did I do that? Probably because I knew I never wanted to forget those stories. Probably because my memory was never too good, and I knew thoughts are sometimes safer on a piece of paper rather than in the labyrinth of your own mind (another reason why I started this blog). Probably because my father told me so, probably because I was hoping that someday we were going to write a book out of all those stories, probably because deep inside my heart I knew I wanted to write, to say my own story amongst the thousands that are already out there.
Because I loved reading a particular series, I started translating it in my mother language, at the beginning of high school or so. And even though of course it was not my own creation, I enjoyed it and I somehow experienced what writing actually means. But apart from some other little trials that went nowhere in particular, that was all. Then I started college, I continued reading from time to time, but I never considered writing again, anything. Probably because of the lack of free time, or too much technology around, or too many other choices of spending my time… I continued keeping the dream of becoming a writer somewhere inside my heart but, as I said in a previous post, it was a dream I just thought I would like to achieve some day, but did nothing about it.
And then I received an email. Something that brought me tears in my eyes; I read it and then forgot about it, until last week when I was writing the previous post, and I remembered the email, searched for it, and here they were, tears again for some reason… It looks like it was exactly a month between my two encounters with that email, and now I see that it was sent to me on a day that some things happened, that changed my path in life a little bit… Or at least I think so. If you had asked me at the end of that day, I would have said that I had a huge loss on one side and a not-so-huge gain on another (but perhaps in the future I’ll realise it was exactly the opposite; it’s hard to accurately see how important love vs work situations are for your future, and which counts more). But anyway, perhaps with that email I have gained that day even more than I thought I have, and I dare say, more than I lost.
It was an ordinary email from Google+, like the ones I keep receiving from time to time, informing me that someone shared a link with me. Who else does that except my father, of course. But surprisingly, the title of the article he had shared was not one of the usuals, although they all cover a wide range of topics. It was “How to be a writer”, and I’ll put a link to it down below – it really worth reading.
So I read it because of the title, not because I expected it to be THAT good, motivational, inspirational, touching, funny and sad in the same time and, most of all, not because I expected it to fit me. I thought it was just going to be a boring list of things to do in order to be capable of writing. But I couldn’t be more wrong. It was a list indeed, but not of ordinary to-do’s. And the way it was presented actually brought me into tears for some reason. ‘Cuz the whole article is not addressed to someone who wants to be a writer, but to a parent who seeks advice about how to help their teenage daughter achieving her dream of becoming a writer…
I won’t say those are the best pieces of advice, ‘cuz you can’t be sure until you’ve tried them. Did my father try them? I don’t know that either – I’m not even sure my dream was big enough to worth fighting for. But one thing’s certain, if the article made me burst into tears again, while reading it one month later, it sure touched me somehow. And lucky me, I guess, that some events from that month made me start blogging, so that after reading the article a couple more times, I’ve decided to write this post, to try and see what’s so special about some parts of it.
I won’t summarise it for you, in case you want to read it – it’s quite short. Split into 3 parts, in the first one the parent is told that ”Fact: writers write. Fact: In order to be a writer you have to write a lot. A LOT. Fact: there’s no shortcut.” And indeed, you can’t be a writer without writing, you can’t magically become a writer without putting one word on a paper. In the last part, the author reveals all the journals that she wrote during past years – ‘cuz that’s how she became a writer, by writing a lot. But it was the middle part that completely amazed me. I suppose I just imagined my father in the situation described, I just imagined myself taking the path suggested there, by checking off each and every key point of becoming a writer. I will discuss a little about some of my favourites:
First of all, let her be bored. – ‘cuz boredom makes her think, and if she thinks too much, it may happen that she has some interesting thoughts she may want to write down; as I said, there’s no other better way of keeping your ideas, dreams and imagination safe from being overwhelmed inside your head.
Give her some tedious chores to do. – ‘cuz not only she’ll get bored pretty soon (see point above), but if she has to keep her body occupied with repetitive actions, such as ”mowing the lawn, doing the dishes by hand, painting the garage”, her mind will tend to go even further away. And who knows what she may find there? She may explore new ideas, open unknown doors inside her mind, follow chains of thoughts that otherwise she wouldn’t have time to follow.
Let her be lonely. Let her believe that no one in the world truly understands her. – ‘cuz loneliness and the feeling of not being completely understood by anyone will make her express herself through words on a paper, hoping that this way at least she will discover who exactly is the person who wrote them.
Give her the freedom to fall in love with the wrong person, to lose her heart, to have it smashed and abused and broken. – ‘cuz if a broken heart doesn’t make her write, I don’t know what else will.
Let her get a job. Let her work long hours for crappy pay with a mean employer and rude customers. – can’t really comment on this one, but I guess she’ll have to experience it sooner or later 🙂
Let her fail. Let her make mistakes. – ‘cuz nothing is perfect from the first trial, but it’s fine as long as she learns from past experiences.
Let her find her own voice, even if she has to try on the voices of a hundred others first to do so. Let her find her own truth, even if she has to spin outrageous lies in search of it. – ‘cuz if she searches long enough, she will find these sooner or later.
Above all else, love her and support her. Love her and believe in her. Love her, and let her go. – ‘cuz if you don’t support her and believe in her, then who else will?!
So thanks dad for all of these, for the email, and much more… And thanks to M. Molly Backes for the great article (read it here) , which made me immediately purchase her book, “Princesses of Iowa”. I read it in a few days, and, as expected, it had the same impact on me as the article: I just somehow found myself in this book, and I really recommend it. It’s about how things that seemed to be important suddenly don’t matter that much, about old and new friendships, old and new love, about how writing can really help when you’re kind of lost, about the fact that you shouldn’t drink and drive, about family, poetry, feelings, being different, starting over and not looking back … It’s a really great book. 🙂
Tomorrow is the first day of a write-every-day challenge called Writing 101, and I signed up for it. I’m not sure I’ll have enough time to write each and every day, but at least the topics given will provide me inspiration for future posts, and hopefully the challenge will help me improve my writing skills. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a proper writer, but at least I write in this blog. ‘Cuz “in the end, writers write, and writing’s what matters.”