I fell into writing. I never thought that I would be a writer full time! My college degrees are in Engineering and Business, and I figured that I’d find some way to parlay that into a long career in Business, Law, or something else that would allow me to take over the world…you know, the traditional way.
But my path changed, and I just flowed with it. And now I find myself spending hours, days, weeks, months…and now over a year, working on my latest book. I’ve read it so many times that I get mad when I find a mistake. But then I’m happy that I caught it before it was published. (I was like that with my first two books, too! Occupational hazard haha) I can’t imagine my book being in the world with a mistake! So, yes, I’m a perfectionist…but more than that, I think that errors distract from substance. They take the focus away from what you’re really trying to say. So I forge on like a crazy person.
But back to me somehow becoming a writer. I was telling my parents yesterday that the last English class I took was AP English…as a senior in high school! I still remember bits of Ms. Racine’s class. And somehow I still remember the poem I memorized and recited in front of the class! The poem was called The Most Vital Thing in Life by Granville…I can’t remember the full name, actually. Here’s what I remember:
When you feel like saying something
That you know you will regret
Or keenly feel an insult
Not quite easy to forget
That’s the time to curb resentment
And maintain your mental peace,
For when your mind is tranquil,
All your ill thoughts
It is easy to be angry
When defrauded or defied,
To be peeved and disappointed
When your wishes are denied.
But to when a worthwhile battle
Over selfishness and spite,
You must learn to keep strict silence
Though you know you’re in the right.
So keep your mental balance
When confronted by a foe,
Be it enemy in ambush
Or some danger that you know.
If you are poised and tranquil
When all around is strife,
Be assured that you have mastered
The Most Vital Thing In Life.
I still love that poem! Though I’m not sure that I remembered it exactly right (it’s been almost 20 years!), I still feel lucky to have picked that poem out of the huge volume of poems that we had to choose from. (Or maybe it picked me!) It still feels relevant. [I looked it up…it’s by Grenville Kleiser. The link to the poem is here, though for some reason it’s repeated twice! I wasn’t too far off ;) ]
Art is like that. It has this ability to get into the vibers of your being and take you over. It can inspire you to reach new heights…or help you to break free from your lowest lows. If someone else did it, we subconsciously reason, we can do it to! We are comforted and somehow we feel understood through our shared experience. (Like hearing a song that expresses your exact mood! Or reading a story that literally reads your life!) Art is how we come to know ourselves, and it connects us all because it reflects the human experience. We gravitate to art that feels like a reflection of ourselves…even if it’s just in a particular moment.
I love visual art…I love music…I love photography…I love film…but somehow writing chose me. I, recently, decided to choose it back. I’ve only been doing the writing thing for a few years. I write about things I know and I write about things that I’m trying to understand. I write about my own experiences and I write about things I’ve never experienced. I don’t know why…it just happens.
Like any artist, I do believe that there are many writers who are more skilled and capable than me. But art doesn’t care about that. Your art may be meant for an audience that you would have never considered. It may even be an audience that you never knew existed. It could only be meant for one person. Your art could change the life of one person. Think of that! Even if it is only one person, that is huge and terrifying and beautiful notion. But even that doesn’t matter! You can’t worry about who that one person is as you create, because your work must remain authentic. And also because you never know…maybe that one person is you. ;)
So create without hesitation! Create without fear! And create even when you don’t think you’re ready. Because you are ready. You wouldn’t have been given the inspiration if you weren’t meant to act on it ;) That is how you know.
Photo source: Writer’s workplace by Dina