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Starting out as a writer

…is a phrase I didn’t think I was going to use to describe myself a year or so ago.

Now, don’t get me wrong — I always wrote. There was always a project (well, most of the time it was Skylark) or an idea I was working on with the vague promise to myself that yes, this time I will finish it, and yes, maybe I will even show it to people. Creative writing was always a thing in my life — something that I just did (far less than I wanted to, but that’s a topic for another time). But even when I participated in NaNoWriMo year after year, reading all those wonderful pep talks and testimonials about how an incredible feat it is to write 50,000 words in a month and no matter whether one finishes a story or not if one writes then one is a writer… and even when I uploaded my first chapter to Wattpad and sat in front of the screen, refreshing and refreshing again, waiting for my first reads, I never felt like calling myself a writer or an author was correct.

That’s all over now, though. See, I even have a webpage now! It has a blog, for goodness’ sake, I’m getting really presumptuous!

Obviously, finishing Skylark changed a lot of things. I didn’t think it would mean so much in this regard, but proving to myself that I can take a novel from the beginning to its end no matter how much time it took (8 years but that’s irrelevant) went a long way. It was admittedly really strange; the book had been in the works for so long that I simultaneously felt like there was no way I didn’t finish it at some point after all this mucking around, and that it would always stay like that, unfinished, an incomplete part of my life, always there and waiting for me to see it to its conclusion. Alas, I did manage to write those final words not even that long ago, and that was, apparently, what my brain needed to comprehend. I’m a writer. I write stories. I have ideas worth sharing and a certain amount of skill to present them. I want people to read my stories and I enjoy it when they enjoy them. And that is all. I’m starting out as a writer, after spending 32 years on this world not acknowledging that I’ve always been one.

There are so many voices weaving fables, sharing thoughts, shouting out opinions, whispering secrets, and telling revelations around us these days. For a long while, I didn’t think I would accomplish anything by joining them. It seems too much and too little at the same time, isn’t it? Changing the world has never seemed as difficult as it does now, and what business do I have starting to speak my mind when I can’t even do that? But I don’t know whether I think that anymore. I can at least check it out what happens when I add my own voice to all those millions, don’t I? Even if it will most probably not change the world, and I need to understand that it is okay. On the other hand, it might just make someone’s day better, and that would be fabulous.

And if nothing else, it might just make my life a little bit brighter. Maybe. I will keep you updated on how that goes, in any case.

I also have a job that I love, but I have similarly complicated feelings towards. Similarly, but at the same time, very differently. I work in science, and if you thought I had impostor syndrome in writing then you gotta check out that bad boy over there! Me in STEM? Yeah, as if. Still, against all anxieties and uncertainties, there is a reason I pursue both science and creative writing. There has to be. Two different reasons, likely, but at their cores, I think they are the same.

Not that long ago, I read a quote from Kurt Vonnegut that went viral on Twitter, and I found it strangely fitting to the situation. Comforting too, somewhat, in that “doesn’t solve the problem but at least offers some explanation” way.

“When I was 15, I spent a month working on an archeological dig. I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of ‘getting to know you’ questions you ask young people: Do you play sports? What’s your favorite subject? And I told him, no I don’t play any sports. I do theater, I’m in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes.

“And he went wow. That’s amazing! And I said, ‘Oh no, but I’m not any good at any of them.’

“And he said something then that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before: ‘I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.’

“And that honestly changed my life. Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn’t been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them. I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could ‘win’ at them.”

Kurt Vonnegut

You know, working on something with all your energy and attention and passion is hard — it just is, by nature, since you’re using all your energy and attention and passion on it a.k.a. you sacrifice a lot. And sometimes when it turns out the thing doesn’t go the way you wanted, or you’re not very good at it, or it’s not received very well, or one of your many-many evil brain goblins tries to convince you that you just suck big time, then it’s very hard to take a deep breath and continue “out of love” (I’m not talking about when you have to continue it out of need now, that is a whole different conversation). Because chances are it will continue to be hard. Nothin’ ain’t ever easy, which sounds cool, but it’s no consolation. Sometimes it’s not worth it. Sometimes, even if you change your entire thought process and ’embrace the suck’, it just hurts too much. You gotta be careful about this, you know. Don’t bend it until it breaks and all that.

But then again, sometimes, for a few sparkling moments, all the gloom clears out, and you sit there looking at the thing and even that damn brain goblin is like… yeah. Yeah, dude. This is kinda badass. I can work with this.

I think those moments are the reason I’m still not out of science, and I’m just getting into writing. No one likes to be slapped in the face by the very things they love. But this damn Universe can’t seem to give out things for free. It’s a capricious labyrinth we’re navigating here. Or perhaps I’m just overthinking, as always. Vonnegut’s revelation might be an important thing to keep in mind, even though striving for victory is a hard thing to suppress.

As a closing thought, I’d like you to know how absolutely devastatingly hard it is going to be for me to push the Publish button on this post (and probably for many following posts, although I hope to improve). I have edited my thoughts into nicely-composed sentences, then I looked over the text a few times, and there’s nothing really in it that I should be ashamed of, or that is outrageous or very divisive. No one is obliged to read it, agree with it, or get in contact with me about it. But it’s going to be out there, you know? Public? I intend to advertise this site — after all, it’s my author site. Is it really a good idea to write a blog? Is there anything I can say that hasn’t been said a million times before? Does anyone even care? Is it a problem if they don’t? What if—

—aaaand Publish.

Thanks for reading!

Love, Helyna
the writer

2 thoughts on “Starting out as a writer”

  1. Love your writing voice. I enjoyed this read, and great on you for going down the writerly path! I’ve been on it for some nine years, and it’s taken me to some pretty amazing places. Wishing you all the best on your journey!

    Like

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