Do I Have What it Takes to Be a Writer?
I make my way over to the mauve sofa–coffee mug in hand–and settle in on its plush cushions, keeping a watchful eye on the thick white liquid sloshing around in the cup. Legs stretched out, I settle my aching back in the curve of the sofa’s armrest, warily staring at the contents of my mug. The berries, coconut, and almond milk mixture with a hint of maple syrup complimenting my homemade granola of flax, chia, pumpkin seeds, and grated coconut which is my normal “morning fare”, is yesterday’s memory. Today’s “breakfast shake” appears to be a pitiful paring down of a deliciously nutritious thought. But intent on making one of many adjustments to come, dictated by my new surroundings, I take the first small sip. Not bad, I think as I set it aside and grab my laptop. As it powers up, so does my anxiety. When the home screen stares back at me expectantly, my brain finally whispers the words my mouth is afraid would slip out: Do I have what it takes to be a writer?
After a grueling 48 hours journey with three time-zone changes, delayed and missed flights, a canceled bus ride, and an overnight stay in the Bangkok airport, I had finally arrived at The Castle. Weary and mentally worn, the first days were spent recovering from the unexpected ordeal. But now it is go-time and the writing is on the wall. No really, literally! Everywhere I look there are inspirational and witty writing quotes which cause me to wonder: What makes a good writer? As the laptop continues its insistent demand for attention, time has come to take stock.
Every Intention Starts with a Passion
A desire that is unexplained and adamant claims the soul of many authors. For them, that passion comes from the love of the written word. The eloquence of a succinctly phrased sentence and the beauty of an enlightening thought make a writer’s heart smile. The brilliance of a well-placed comma or the drama invoked by an unexpected adverb is every aspiring writer’s high. Over the years, the written word has been my solace and inspiration. It has taken me to places beyond passport control and heights measured in hope-increments. But being a writer goes beyond enthusiasm for the written word. The thought of letting people into your most private and, in some cases, irrational thoughts is daunting. Do I have enough passion to overcome the challenges of vulnerability? Does wanting to share my thoughts give me the right to command a platform?
Every Career Demands Skills
Years of reading and indulging in works of brilliant penmanship led me to journaling. Dissecting and absorbing the words of eloquent authors led me to an attempt at self-publishing. While temporarily satisfying, the need for technical skills and expert insight became apparent. Can I learn to recreate scenes that stirred the imagination as those authors had done for me? Will I be able to paint a picture that captures the thoughts and emotions of my characters? Can I make people understand the intricacies of the issues at hand? Will I be able to maneuver the intersection of criticism that, like the greatest of intentions, may put me on a motorway heading in the direction of hell? Would I embrace constructive feedback and let it be the catalyst to achieving a place in writing history?
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” ~ Leo Tolstoy.
Unlike the fairy tales and the rags-to-riches movies, not every writer pens their masterpiece in their debut and then proceeds to write their own ticket with a publishing company. Some authors have had to wait out their death for the recognition of their exceptional talent. Writers have had their hopes dashed by constantly shifting customer demands and book trends that sidestep their provoking pièce de résistance. Others have laid down their arms of literary authenticity, ingenuity, and integrity and surrendered to the conquest of paid bills and a place to call home. Still others have relegated themselves to cookie-cutter internet writing in the hopes of keeping their dreams alive and having a modicum of enjoyment in their craft. Can I change with the literary times? Can I adapt to the sacrifices and compromises a writing career may impose?
Every Dream Requires Effort
Hours of brainstorming, freewriting, and rewriting are an author’s constant companions. Times of blankly staring into the distance letting thoughts simmer and digest is a writer’s favorite pastime. Weekends of reconnoitering and nights scouring the internet in research is an author’s ritual. Do I invest the time in a dream while the necessities of life require other activities? Will I be able to have the stamina to stare countless hours at a screen behind a desk, or to sit on a deck, pen in hand, fighting off thoughts of impending arthritis? Can I make the effort to stay engaged in the topic, be determined to see it through, and have the willpower to keep at it when all seems lost or pointless?
As I drain my mug, stunned to realize that hours had gone by in my reflections, soaking in the relief the soft armrest has given my aching back, I realize none of my speculations mattered. Because as I looked at the words on my screen I accepted the inevitable–I am already a writer.