Though many of my ambitions were far from realistic, amid the wistful thinking there was always one thought, standing strong despite being buffeted by every word that made me feel worthless, every teacher who looked at me like I was stupid. The word ‘author’ has been swimming around in the sea of my thoughts for years now. It’s only gotten stronger since my teachers started praising me and I met people who love the craft like I do and love what I do with words.
Words can be my magic. I can make any dream real through words on a page, because to me what I read may as well be real. I can’t draw, but I can paint a picture with words, make beauty out of the sometimes harsh pen-strokes. I like being able to create worlds, create people as real as the person sitting next to me. I like being God, deciding what happens and when it happens, deciding if my character will rise from the rubble of their lives or lie buried beneath it.
I want to write books. Those five words I repeat like a mantra in my head when I feel beaten. They give me strength, light up my future and make me believe that one day I will see my name in print, look at my books arranged neatly on the shelves in Easons. I want people to fall in love with my characters just as desperately as I have.
I love being a writer. I love that flash of inspiration and the ensuing scramble for pen and paper, holding desperately to an image, a line or a plot development. One time I made a plan to kill a character, one I love, in my book. I didn’t even actually do the deed, I didn’t write the words that would end her life, but I arrived downstairs in tears to a very bewildered dad. He was very worried and I had to assure him that I was OK, but my character, one I loved fiercely, was dead, and it was all my fault. I love that, being so emotionally involved with my characters, because like it or not they all represent people I know, people I love and hate.
Her death scene is still written in my notebook. I’m dreading the time when I will look at the blank Microsoft Word Document and admit to myself that it is time, she has to die. I wrote a story in third year for English homework and I still feel sad about a character that I destroyed. You’d have to read the story to understand (and good luck with that as it’s a future book), but every time I think about it I feel terrible. That character seems real to me.
People think that being an author is easy, but in the end the decision to kill or not to kill lies in your hands, and you don’t always want to pull that trigger, write the paragraph where they are fatally injured or where you tear them apart. It’s hard, because deep down you love every character, because you know everything about them, everything that could have been had the final decision not come down to death.
Everyone has these secret goals that they don’t like to share with people. Someone who enjoys that notoriety that having a different boyfriend every week brings may secretly want to have someone steady, someone that they won’t have to dispose of each Friday. Someone who likes people to think that she doesn’t study may be nursing a secret ambition to be a vet or a doctor.
Eventually, though, you have to embrace the truth, and it shall set you free. If you concentrate too much on what others expect of you, you might forget what’s really important; what you want. Your parents may have medical school in mind for you, but if you secretly love to draw, or cook, or you have a passion for history; you have to let it out. What they expect of you isn’t important. People should want the best for you; they should want you to do something you love.
Goals are important, because they show you who they really are, not who you think you are. I could want to be naturally talented at drawing all I like, but the truth is it would take a hell of a lot of work to make me even a mediocre drawer. Writing is my truth, my goal, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything, not the best job in medicine in the world. Just like some people wouldn’t give up being a surgeon for anything; or an artist wouldn’t give up their talent to be a writer, or a psychologist.
My goal in life may be different from many people, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable to me. I figure if I do what I love, I can be happy, and that’s all that matters.