I never had any trouble finding my passion; in my case, I realized what my passion was, because it was something that I was always skilled at, but never found a whole lot of joy in until maybe seventh or eighth grade. I have an extremely unique history in regards to how I discovered my love for the written word, and my motivation to share that love with the world.
I have never mentioned this to many people, but a lot of the time my work is very personal. It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction, blogging, or journaling (I do realize that blogging is not always considered to be akin to writing, but that topic is for another time). In some way, I always base whatever I write about off my own personal thoughts or experiences. I think that’s why such pieces are often filled with so much depth and emotion; there have been times where I have literally put my own personality into a character, or discussed something that I went through in terms of that character.
It is both difficult and liberating at the same time. One could argue that it’s me being a coward by hiding behind someone (or something) that is make believe. Regardless, I like to switch it up; it largely depends on the subject and who it involves. My next story that I am writing will center around an extremely dark time in my life, and it will take a lot of bravery and confidence in order to do it.
I have learned quite a bit about this craft, particularly in the last year or so. The first lesson is simple and relates to what I just mentioned above: Tell the truth. Don’t beat around the bush. You can’t write a story that is completely made up, but you also have to make it believable.
Awhile back, I once mentioned that the hardest part of creating a literary work was having the discipline and motivation to sit down and do it. But as the year has gone on, I now know that is not always the case. Personally, sitting through workshops and critiques is difficult for me, or at least it has been the last two times I’ve done it. That, and the editing process.
During workshop, you’re normally not allowed to talk for the duration of the time that your piece is being discussed. People will go around the room and tell you what did work, but they will also tell you what didn’t work. Praise is easy to take in, because who doesn’t like being told that what they’ve written is absolutely amazing? But that’s not the reason I came to college.
Criticism is normally supposed to be constructive; and I say it like that because not everybody does it that way. There have been instances where one person will tell another that they absolutely hated their story or poem, and that the author should go find another hobby or profession. Last semester, I took a fiction class and was told by one of my classmates that not only was my piece complete bullshit, but they said that if it wasn’t like gold, then it wasn’t worth it.
As much as it stings, (at least initially) that is just the nature of the literary world. Publishers, magazines, etc. will reject you and in some way tell you that you’re in no way good enough to be an author. Those who have experienced the “real world” will try to advise you to take up a career that is practical, and that will make you question what in the heck you are doing.
But it doesn’t stop there; I have heard that if and when you get a book deal, some will try to change the majority, if not all of what you wrote. Once it hits the shelves, people have to actually read it. Whether or not people read it largely depends on what critics say about it, and they may verbally tear the book to shreds. It is very possible that you will end up back at square one.
Granted, I know very little of what actually happens. But based on what I have heard, it is not an easy journey. However, I have two choices: I can either take the doubts and negative comments to heart and choose to play it safe. Or, I can turn those words into determination and fight like hell until I get to where I want to go.
And for anyone that knows me well enough, when I am determined to do something, I find a way to get it done.
I don’t mean to scare anybody or cast a dark shadow on this profession. To many, my dream might sound unrealistic, especially in this economy. But I wouldn’t want it so bad if I didn’t feel in both my heart and soul that this is what I am supposed to be doing. Believe me, I’ve looked at a half a dozen career options, and am still exploring in my particular field; at least for the sake of paying the bills.
I’ve been told time and time again that I have a God-given talent; a talent that I do not intend on wasting. I’ve always had this inkling that I want to make an impact on the world in one way or another. I’ve seen with my own eyes that you don’t have to be in front of a TV camera or be an elected official to do it. There is no way of knowing how words can change a person. An old friend of mine once wrote in my high school yearbook, “keep writing, because it is going to touch so many lives of the people around you.”
I have had that advice stuck in my head since I was seventeen years old. My hope is that I will not be published just for the sake of being published. Rather, I want to be published so that my work will be read, absorbed, and remembered.
I don’t know where exactly I am headed, or what giant leaps I’ll have to take in order to get there. But God willing, I will make it happen!