People can go their whole life not knowing who they are and then, like a bolt of lightning, it hits them. BAM! “That is what I should be doing.”
I wish I was one of those stories, I think it would have been cool.
Not me though. Ever ignoring my father’s advice, I never make things easy on myself. I’ll give you, dear reader, the beginning of this path and some practices which have worked for me.
The year was 1987. My mother had to work and my aunt had a day off, so she was babysitting my younger sister and me. I never was one for Barbies, so I resorted to asking if I could play on the computer. My aunt hesitantly obliged and gave me one of maybe 3 programs available at the time on her Macintosh: word processing.
I started out typing things like my name and things like that. Eventually, though, I crafted a short story about a kid who went to a magical land where personified Dalmatians were walking as bipeds. It was maybe one page in length but I was proud of it. I wanted everyone to come and look at it. It was as if I was a cat that just brought my people a dead bird: Look what I did; it was not easy, but it is for you.
Fast forward one decade and several mistakes in life. I ended up joining the Army. I was proud of that—am proud of that. I was doing something. I was no longer just walking through life like an apparition: trying to get noticed by someone. I loved Service life but I spent most of my time writing letters and journals. It was as if shooting well or running far was rewarded by writing time. It may have been.
Eventually, I received my Honorable Discharge and went home. I got a job as a cobbler (shoe repair). I wrote a lot in those days, too; it was a very slow, boring job. I was still in the perfect job, I just sat and read and wrote my spiritual insights.
My lovely daughter was born during this time and I put the pen down. I worked as a barista and gas station attendant. These jobs put food on the table but little more.
Eventually, I decided that I was going to go to college because, well, that is just what you do. I had no idea what I wanted to do or where it was going to take me, but I went.
I took a first year composition class with Dr. Ali at Oakland Community College. I will never forget the day that she told me that we needed to write a four page essay by the following week. When my five pages were finished and turned in, I waited. The following class period, she gave the papers back and asked me to see her after class. What she told me will stick with me and reverberate through my life. She said that I simply needed to take the conclusion from the end of the essay, add a few more pages to it, and she was willing to accept it for the second-year composition class because I, as she said, am a “natural writer”.
I dropped out of college. I think that was the worst thing I could have done for myself at the time. But, you live, you learn.
Later, I finally heeded the pressure of my father and went back to school. Dad never finished college so it was really important to him that I have a better life. I went back to school and it was during this time when, on his deathbed, he told me to finish school; to promise him that I would go until I was done. I promised him. I graduate this year with a BA in journalism.
I have a BFFF (I’ll let you figure out the additional F) who one year called to tell me about NaNoWriMo. Write 50,000 words in 30 days. I couldn’t see the point of it. I was blinded.
Last November, I was reintroduced to NaNo, this time by my girlfriend. She thought that it was something that we could do together. I ended up with a story in my head and I was frantically writing it.
I do NOT type fast, but I was going as fast as I could. The story wanted out. I obliged the release of the characters from their vaults.
I did not finish it. I will though.
Every day, though I am guilty of not listening to my muse sometimes, I write. Even if it is just to finish a paragraph or one line of dialogue, I write.
I am a writer. I write.
I have a moleskin notebook that I almost always have with me. If I get inspiration anywhere, I jot it down. It might not make it into this story, but who knows?
I have resolved that I will only keep people in the loop about my progresses that actually support me. I have friends who laughed when I told them that I was going to write a novel. I do not talk to them about it.
I am on Twitter A LOT. I have met some awesome writers, editors, publishers and the like there. I heard once that the only way to become a millionaire is to spend time socializing with other millionaires. Want to be a better writer? Spend time socializing with other writers.
If you have a story screaming in your head that you simply need to get written, resolve that you will write it, a little at a time. You need not - and likely will not - finish it in one sitting; but write. If your soul is screaming at you, telling you that you are a writer: LISTEN. Just write. It is what you are and it is what you need to do.
You will feel like I do—complete. -- Alexander Diakonis
As an avid reader he can also be found with a Kindle in one pocket a dog-eared copy of something Sci-Fi in the other. More general musings or thoughts can be found at www.alexdiakonis.com and @alexjdiakonis on Twitter.