It’s one of the most beautiful human experiences, to touch somebody with your words. We can spark the imagination of a reader with just the scratch of a pen. We can create new realms of intriguing past, explore what drives our characters, and share the enchanting world we’ve dreamed of, all with the power of those captivating black letters on the page. We can give readers a lump in their throat, we can make them angry with a person that exists only in our minds, and we can offer them a place to escape when they just need to forget about it all.
I believe writing is one of the most difficult professions in the world. Now, I’ve loved writing ever since I can remember. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do with my life, but it used to be so hard for those three words – “I’m a writer” – to slip out of my mouth. For years, even though I knew my commitment to writing was absolutely unswerving, I found that it was tough for me to declare that that was who I was.
Writing is not a job. It’s a need. It fulfills that deep craving inside us for pure expression. When we can’t articulate what we want to say, our pens pause over the blank page, shaking slightly, full of our intensity and emotion. We sit there for hours on end, clutching mugs of tea to our chest, frustrated with the words that just won’t flow on the page, crying out for milk chocolate and a few biscuits to placate us.
When the words are there, though, it’s like nothing else. It’s as if they were waiting to come into existence: a trail of magic ready to gush from the inner depths of the imagination. Playing with language is a therapeutic process. We can lose ourselves in it. It makes us feel better to battle it out as our hero, or to save the world, or to die a dramatic death in the arms of a lover.
We can share our stories through song, music, poetry or fiction; the medium does not matter as long as the tale makes the reader care. Communication is the core of writing, whether it is to argue our viewpoint, convey information or to transport a reader to another place. The ultimate aim is to challenge ourselves through what, and how, we write.
There are so many ways for us to do this; by crafting a short story, completing an academic thesis, or even finally understanding what we want to say in that line of a poem. For me, it’s been signing myself up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), an attempt by writers all over the globe to produce a 50,000-word novel during November. I undertook the challenge as part of my university studies, in order to give me a stricter deadline. I’m far too much of a perfectionist to be successful in NaNoWriMo, but my tenacious desire to progress with my story has made me appreciate the fact that, even if I don’t get 50,000 words written, beautiful expression is an achievement.
This year, I finally realised, has already been the best of my writing life. Being able to say those breathtaking words – “I am a writer” – has only strengthened my determination to be successful in making my passion my career.
Image by Michael Scott.