I’ve been writing regularly for five years. And in those five years, I have written the following:
- Three fanfic pieces (10K to 20K words each)
- Two novel-length manuscripts (150K words)
- Six novellas (15k to 30k words each)
- Hundreds of blog posts, short stories, personal essays spread throughout various websites
It might not seem like a lot, but prior to those five years, I only wrote about 100k words in the span of ten or fifteen years. Creatively, that is. I’m not including papers for school or reports for work.
I wish I hadn’t stopped. If I’d been writing for all those missing years, my writing would’ve been on a whole other level today. But then again, I’m not sure if I really had anything meaningful to say back then.
Time goes by so fast. I was a different person five years ago. Different priorities. Different dreams. It’s the end of 2014 (at least it was when I was writing this), and nostalgia has been keeping me up at night.
Also, a really bad cold. (I’m surrounded by snotty tissues right now.)
I tell everyone that Bioware changed my life. Looking back, if I hadn’t been so inspired by their stories, I wouldn’t have started writing again. If I hadn’t been writing, I’m not sure I would still be here. At some point, showing up, typing out my words one at a time became my only way to breathe.
I talk about the girl I used to be as if she was a different person. And in a way, that’s true. The cells inside me today are different from the ones that used to make up my body back then. But maybe there’s a thread that connects the kid-me to the person I am today. If there is, I’d like to imagine that little girl—the one I see in my writing—giving me permission to keep breathing.
Growing up is a funny thing. When you’re young, you think you’re growing into the person you want to be, but I’m starting to think it’s more about rediscovering who you used to be. We’re made up of scattered memories—some good, some bad—but it’s not until we’re older that we can tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not.
I’ve always liked this particular quote by Steve Jobs:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path and that will make all the difference.”
Which also happens to be the first part of my favorite motivational video:
I have a love-hate relationship with well-worn paths. It feels like I’ve been out of step with life since I was old enough to walk, yet I can’t not be out of step anymore than I can stop writing. The more I talk to other writers, dreamers, artists, weirdos, the more I see this sense of unease, or dissatisfaction, in them too.
If wishes were real, then my New Year’s wish for you would be to follow your heart no matter where it leads you, to fall down a lot, to dream. I hope you dance. A lot. With or without pants. Be brave, be strong. I hope you find your joy, that one thing that keeps your feet on solid ground when things turn crazy but also that one thing that will give your heart beautiful, giant, extraordinary wings with which to fly.
I’m starting to ramble. I blame the cold medicine.
Anyway, my goals for the next five years? Keep writing. Keep making meaningful art. Keep breathing.