Writing has become my best friend, my one true love, and my savior, but it wasn’t always this way. I didn’t always believe in words. I didn’t always believe that writing could cure sadness, defeat or anger. Coming of age in the suburbs was tough for me. Although I belonged, I felt incomplete and I felt like an outcast. I think it’s because I always felt different than the people I hung out with. I came from a home different than most and I grew up quicker than my age had required. I was a teenager enjoying the ride but I always felt like something was missing. Suburbia lacked inspiration and because it lacked inspiration I often wondered about other places different from where I lived. I was trying to find myself in the midst of boredom and doing the same thing on a different day. Boredom gave me the ammunition I needed to strike my dreams with courage. I was starving for an adventure and always felt like I belonged somewhere else. I still feel that way, for the most part. I suppose that’s always been the motive needed to drive myself out of Suburbia. While I was planning my future getaway I was in search of someone I could trust with my secrets, my thoughts and my vivid imagination. As hard as I searched, I wasn’t able to find this in people so I found it in writing. I had found comfort in words. This is when I fell madly in love with writing. This is when writing saved me.
The ideas in my head became a collective group of friends and my notebook became the place where I carried them safely. This eventually led to writing a book (which I hope to have published one day). Writing became my outlet and a great pass time. Although I enjoyed writing, I didn’t think I was any good. I also didn’t think being a writer was possible, mainly because some teachers downplayed it as an occupation. They often equated success with status and high paying jobs. It was odd to me that the books we studied were held with such high regard, yet being a writer was not an occupation put on a pedestal. It wasn’t until the last day of my last year of high school when I learned to believe in my writing and that being a writer is possible. On that day, I passed by my Writer’s Craft teacher’s office to pick up my assignment and to say goodbye. This moment where we exchanged words changed my mind forever. He handed me the book I had written for the class assignment and said: “You should be very proud of this.” I jokingly asked him if he was talking about the same book I was holding in my hands. He nodded and confirmed that he was indeed speaking about the book I was holding. I explained that I loved writing and wanted to be a writer but I didn’t think I could be one because it didn’t seem realistic. I remember he looked me dead in the eye and scolded me for not believing in myself. “You should be very proud of what you’ve produced here,” he said pointing to the book, “keep at it and who knows, maybe one day I’ll be picking up a book of yours from a shelf.” He seemed to have more confidence in my writing than what it was worth. Nonetheless, I did what he told me to do. I kept at it. His words inspired me to write and write and write. This is when I fell in love with the idea of becoming a writer.
Although the relationship between my pen and I was a beautiful thing, it was a love affair that ended early. University changed me into a callous writer, afraid to be creative. I had become a writer who found it difficult to write essays about beautiful books because I couldn’t demonstrate their beauty in structured papers, which consisted of a thesis, argument, and quotations. These beautiful books were being picked and prodded instead of being appreciated for what they were. I was a victim of subjectivity and I couldn’t find happiness in writing anymore. I despised writing. I was no longer inspired to write and it felt funny. This is when I decided that being an English Literature major wasn’t for me anymore. I hated it. When I discussed this with a professor, he told me that I should give up, maybe take some time off school. When I look back I can’t help but smile. I realized that it was probably the best advice he could have given me, not because it was the right advice but because it was the wrong advice. It gave me the fuel I needed to believe in myself. I chose not to give up and decided that I was going to switch my major to something I liked. So that’s what I did.
After I switched my major, I fell in love with learning and with writing again. A professor of mine gave me the confidence I needed to re-visit the writer I used to be. She commended my writing style and analytical skills in an essay I had written on Baudelaire’s poems and encouraged me to enter the essay in an essay competition. I was reluctant at first but decided to enter it anyway. Although I didn’t win, I proved something to myself. I proved that if I want to be a writer, I’ve got to dig deep and put the writer within me to good use. I learned that you have to face your fears by putting your writing on display. If you don’t succeed, it’s okay. Failure is the greatest thing because it makes you better. I learned that giving up is easy and persevering is hard but if you want to succeed you have to keep at it. I also realized that writing was still something I wanted to do. When I look back, I’m happy that I struggled. It’s made me more confident in the decision I’ve made to do what I want to do. It’s a labor of love.
To me, writing is not about failing or succeeding. It’s about sharing a part of yourself that you didn’t know you had. For the most part, this is the role that writing has played in my life. If someone tells you that you can’t have dreams of being a writer, a musician, a painter, tell them to put a sock in it. You should also share this quote by Dominic Owen Mallary: “Our lives are mere flashes of light in an infinitely empty universe. In 12 years of education the most important lesson I have learned is that what we see as “normal” living is truly a travesty of our potential. In a society so governed by superficiality, appearances, and petty economics, dreams are more real than anything, anything in the “real world.” Refuse normalcy. Beauty is everywhere, love is endless, and joy bleeds from our everyday existence. Embrace it.” After you’ve shared this with them, reveal the largest grin you could ever display on your face and tell them to return to their boring life of expectations. These people will make you believe that your dreams are only dreams and that’s as far as they go. They claim that you can’t be an artist in the real world. In the real world you need to have a real job. For the longest time I believed them. Why couldn’t I have dreams of being a writer? Why had I for so long avoided it as a something I really wanted to be? I’m glad I don’t anymore. After completing a university degree and holding a 9-5 job I’ve realized that there is so much more out there in the world that is more fulfilling than working to make money. Working a job you hate to make money is the least fulfilling thing, to me anyway. I’ve learned that if we pound at our dreams and work hard at achieving them we can become that somebody those people made us believe was just a fictional person. There is so much more to life than living it according to another person’s blueprint. Where is the pleasure in life if we can’t accomplish the things we want to, for the sake of our dreams becoming a reality? What do we know if we don’t try? Fall in love. Life is too short to not be able to do what we love.
Question for you: What have you fallen in love with? When did you discover your passion? …Let’s have a chit-chat.
(Photo Credit: saypeople.com)
Tonight I got stuck in a daydream. As I looked out the coffee shop window, these are a few of the strange things I thought about…
Do you ever get stuck in a daydream? It’s that holy shit moment when you realize you’re alive. Tangible, heart beating, breathing you, is alive. For a moment it’s like your mind leaves your body and is looking down at you like its got eyes. Your mind stares at you and tries to make sense of your existence as if all along you felt like you never existed. It’s a weird moment of realization. A weird moment of realization I just experienced.
I sometimes wonder are birds really happy to be birds? Do they wish to be humans like humans wish they could be birds? And what about insects? Do they know that they are despised by most of us? Does an ant fear shadows? Does every shadow resemble a shoe?
Are men attractive because they’re taken or are they taken because they’re attractive? What makes someone attractive? Do the laws of attraction eliminate the laws of boredom? And what is love? Is it really a feeling or a feeling dictated by what we measure as greatness and what we value? And beauty. Is it truly in the eye of the beholder. Are we the beholder in control of what we think is beautiful or is beauty a construction? Can we live without love? Can we go our entire lives loving only ourselves and not someone else? What happens if you don’t find love? Does it mean you’re not complete? Can we find happiness in being lonely?
Knowledge is power. Is it really though? Does our knowledge allow us to exercise our power to change things? Does having knowledge mean you are better than the person who is less knowledgeable than you? Does having knowledge make you powerful because you can challenge others? Does having knowledge sometimes make you feel powerless?
What are we without our dreams? Do our dreams give us wings to soar to greater heights? What happens if our dreams don’t come true? Is it because we didn’t try hard enough or is it because life and the circumstances involved in it stopped us? Is a fork in the road so-to-speak a sign to give up or is it a sign to keep moving forward, driving you to succeed? What is success? Who determines success? Can success truly be measured by oneself and not by others? If so, is that bias?
Inspirational quotes. Do they inspire us genuinely? Or do they inspire us because they contradict who we are. Do the people who write them live by these words or are these words just a way for them to be seen; for them to be labelled profound?
…and last but not least- boxers or briefs? I’m kidding. I suppose I’ll end my cluster of random questions here. Feel free to answer any of them.
The character in my book and writer’s block inspired this post- who would have thought that writer’s block would motivate me to write? I thought that a poem would be a perfect way to describe Quinn (the character) and the world she’s living in. I also thought it might prompt me to write more for the chapter. If you’re having a hard time trying to create a scene for your character or you’re finding it difficult to set the tone, try to imagine Morgan Freeman or any other person with a moving voice reading it. That should help you write with a particular style. It works for me. Or write a poem. Tonight, I wrote a poem.
The sporadic rhyming scheme reflects the erratic and contradicting nature of the character. She battles with the one she loves because he is the one she hates. She is also at war with herself and the world around her. She often portrays an image opposite of who she really is, not because she chooses to but because she has to. This life did not choose her. She chose it and with choosing comes a price. Her only way out is to be stolen.
Question for you:
How do you cure your writer’s block?
My evenings are usually made up of sipping coffee, occasionally engaging in conversation with the odd stranger who approaches me and of course writing in coffee shops, however, last night I decided to exchange some routine for some good ol’ fun. I’m too old to trick or treat and I couldn’t be bothered to hand out candy fearful that my hand would get the better of me and incessantly fill my mouth with chocolate bars instead of children’s bags. The safest solution was to head into the city to watch one of my favorite bands the Toronto music scene has to offer- not to mention the lead singer is my brother (a little bias, maybe). So that’s what I did.
I ventured off into the city in my costume and stood in the rain for a half an hour to watch (cue drum roll) Elos Arma. They’re an Indie band with a unique name, which by the way doesn’t parallel a cheap story, nor did they randomly pick it or choose the name on purpose. Long story short the lead singer had a dream and in his dream, a man (who resembled my late grandfather), repeated the words Elos Arma to him. When he woke up he wasn’t sure what the dream meant or even what the translation or meaning behind the words was. Upon Googling them, he thought the name might suit the band and to his surprise his band members did too. That’s the story of how Elos Arma got their name.
They’ve really grown as a band. I know this because I’ve been there to see them grow into the musicians they are today. From their many band practices in the basement of our house to the many shows played around the city, I’ve been a witness to their change and growth. I saw inspiration and creativity flourish into beautiful song writing and beautiful music making. They are feverishly passionate and emanate this aura of energy most can’t describe easily. This exists in the heart and soul of the band and it’s where music lives. Music lives within them and they within music. They’ve sacrificed a whole lot to fulfill their dreams and I always let my brother know, at any chance I get, that I respect him and admire him for doing that. His dream in making music to make people happy has taken precedence over everything in his life. It has become his life. He bleeds, sweats and dreams music. He’s always told me that it doesn’t matter if he’s played for 1 person, 5 people, or 100 or more, he feels like his world is complete when he’s on stage. I hope he can one day see his dream of playing in front of thousands and even millions transform into a reality. I won’t mention much about their music. I’ll let their music speak for itself. In the meantime, have a listen and vote for them to open for The Trews (please and thank you).
http://elosarma.bandcamp.com/album/mother-father (click on this link to listen for FREE or to purchase their E.P)