I first realized I wanted to be an author at the age of three. I would steal piles and piles of computer paper from my dad’s office, scribble stories and pictures on each page, and staple them together into little “books”. I have no clue where any of those stories are today, but I’m sure they’ll be back to haunt me at some point in my life.
Then I became a pre-teen and was given tons of cute little notebooks for birthdays and such. I started scribbling (in a more coherent manner than when I was three, mind you) in those. I wrote about what I knew – so basically all my stories were about girls and boys and the roller coaster drama of middle school.
At that time, I would stay up late in the night writing in these tiny notebooks furiously. It could be 3 a.m. on a school night, and I would not be able to put the pen down. Once I got going, I just could not stop. And THAT, as a writer and human, is one of the best feelings in the world.
I think any artist could agree that when they start on a project, getting in the groove of your art and not being able to stop is unlike anything else. You feel so fulfilled and powerful, taking something that existed in your head and churning it out into a thing in space. And since we so often have to moan and groan through writer’s block, getting it done easily with passion makes it all the more victorious. All the more magical.
At some point in college, through all my literature, creative writing, and journalism classes, I realized it was no longer my dream to become an author. I would sit next to insanely talented, visceral kids who could make a McDonalds order sound like pure poetry. These kids wanted to write the next great American novel. And shit, I hope those kids pursue their talent and dream of writing a book for as long as it suits them – each one of them deserve success.
But for me, I realized I didn’t have that kind of passion for a set goal in a writing career. It wasn’t really what I wanted. And then, from there, I just got kind of confused. I had no stable plan when I graduated.
I’m so glad that happened. It made me realize why I write. Why the word “author” had popped up in my head as a three year old, as the only synonym for “good storyteller” I knew at the time, and stuck with me for so many years.
I’m not passionate about the idea of becoming a famous author. I don’t have the goal to be a successful writer. But I do love telling stories. That’s why I spent days, weeks, months of my childhood with my nose hidden behind a notebook. Even though maybe 95% of what I’ve written in my life has never reached any eyes beside my own.
I just loved to turn a story into the written word. As an often quiet person, writing was (and is) how I could clearly express my thoughts and feelings. And the thoughts and feelings of others – there is nothing greater to me than an individual telling me their unique story, which I can replay in my head and possibly share with others. It makes me giddy just thinking about it.
For any artists, ESPECIALLY writers, I highly recommend reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. She talks about why it’s important to pursue your creative passion, even if it’s not successful, even if you’re no good, even if it amounts to nothing. It’s what I’ve always believed in, but never really knew how to put in words.
The novel is changing my life at the moment – as someone who has lost a bit of inspiration, of motivation, to write, with a demanding day job and other priorities. Elizabeth is reminding me of why it’s important to pursue your creative passions without fear or agenda, and without this, I wouldn’t be close to sitting in a coffee shop, writing this post, and thinking about what I love.