“I don’t follow rules. I don’t really know what I’m doing, I just do things that feel right.” -Yann Martel
I thought I’d pop back in here to give a little update as to how the novel writing is going, but also to somehow record/journal parts of this awesome journey. I have learned so much about myself just in these past few weeks and it’s important to me that I don’t forget a second of this part of my life, and the shift that has come with going out on a ledge and going after a dream. As exciting and terrifying and liberating and painful as that can often be, I am officially a fan, that I know for sure.
This time of learning how to get up every day and find the process of writing this story, of learning HOW to write this story, has in itself been hard work. It takes awhile to understand the groove of things, I think, especially when they are new and come with no sort of instruction manual. Finding and understanding the groove of it for yourself can only be done by, well… doing it. Then, after awhile, you gain experience as you’ve gone through some of it. And whether you find it or it finds you, I haven’t figured that part out yet, but that question alone is just one of the many things that has brought so much beauty and magic to this adventure.
Last month, I was gifted some much needed encouragement from a friend of mine who is – and I do not say this as an overstatement – one of the most talented individuals I’ve ever known. He’s an amazing writer, visionary and creative, and after I’d gone through a few “lost” days while in this writing process, Christian suggested I reach out to him. And so I did. I shared with him my frustrations and more so confusion in regards to the process of this whole thing. (There are many layers to that confusion but for time’s sake, let’s just leave it at “confusion about the process of this whole thing.”) Less than 10 minutes later, he’d responded. Tears, as I read his email, I cannot even begin to tell you how the things he shared met me at just the right place to where I understood them completely. And that did something for me – not only did his actual words help me through (to the point where I printed out his email and taped it above my desk), but just the mere fact that from a writer to another writer it made sense, that alone was realization that I’m in this now. I am a writer not just because I say that I am, but because I’ve chosen to be in this, and it has chosen me. His words didn’t give me my own answers (something I would have to do on my own and through the experience of it all), but instead they paved a new road for me to be able to move forward. And I am forever grateful to him for that.
I’ve been listening to podcasts while on my daily walks/jogs and recently listened to an episode of Writers on Writing that just so happened to sort of tie together a lot of these thoughts I’d been having about novel writing. This particular episode was an interview with Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi (as well as many other books, all of which I’m dying to read now). Whether you’re a writer or not, I really do recommend listening to this interview with Yann. He covers an array of topics, like faith and religion, life and death (and not in a morbid sense at all), storytelling, and his personal experiences in novel writing. I found it to be very thought provoking, interesting, and inspiring – so much so that I barely got a legit workout in while I listened because I was stopping every few minutes to write down things he was saying that really resonated with me. And while I could write blog post after blog post based on everything he covered in those 30 minutes, there were a few things he mentioned that I felt might be appropriate to note in this particular post about what I’m connecting to thus far in this writing experience.
“The success of a book doesn’t improve you as a writer. Yes, it gives you confidence but it doesn’t make you a better writer.”
“They satisfy me, my stories.”
“Write without being attached to an end. You can’t write in the sole hope of being published.”
These things really just kind of put it all into place for me, finally; I connected to these things he was saying and the meanings behind them. And they gave me an unfound freedom to continue forward in doing and experiencing.
While there is nothing wrong with establishing goals or mapping out specific dreams, for me personally – doing so often destroys the dream. Once I’ve attached a specific outcome to a dream, not only does it give it an ending (and therefore forces me to plan far beyond where my mind should even be going at that point), but I believe it also changes the dream. It takes away the freedom that should be in all creative endeavors. Self-planned endings put certain pressures on ourselves and, again, while that’s not always a bad thing – because sometimes we do need to light a little fire under our asses to get us up and going – in this instance, for me, I need to write this story for the mere sake of writing it. Not just because I want it to be published. Not just because I want to be a best selling author. Not just because I hope for some kind of monetary gain. I need to write it because out of anything else in my life I could be doing, this is what I choose to do day after day. It’s what makes me feel the most alive, the most like me. And perhaps that’s a very selfish way of looking at it and I have accepted the possible fact that there may come a day when I no longer want to do this (novel writing), but – I want to experience life at this stage of my life through writing stories. I want to find my own definition of success. While this book could very well be an utter failure in terms of worldly reviews and opinions, as a recovering perfectionist myself, it feels incredibly liberating to DO IT ANYWAY. I have no plan, have no idea what I’m doing. I’m just taking a story that means a great deal to me and I’m writing it out.
There’s something to be said for simply choosing to do “it” (whatever your “it” may be) for the experience, for the process of it all. Because sometimes, while on our journey to make our dreams become reality, we realize it was never about that end result. The dream was in the doing. The dream was in the living. The dream was the journey itself.