After much thought, I decided to create this site and include it under Bella’s Bookshelves. In fact, for almost a year I kept deciding not to, but the fact that the idea wouldn’t die led me to the conclusion that this may be a good idea, if at least to force me to get over my fear of committing to writing.
I do love reading but I also have a passion for writing. If you read Bella’s Bookshelves, you already know that. I have been writing since what feels like the dawn of time, when I look back. Not necessarily stories in the traditional sense, but some form of story nonetheless, in letters, emails, tweets, et cetera. There are many forms of stories, true and otherwise.
Although I’ve never stopped writing in general, I’ve almost completely fallen out of the habit of writing fiction. I enjoyed writing fiction when I was younger, and felt most in my fiction writing groove when in university taking creative writing courses. I wouldn’t say that particular writing was exceptional, looking back. Of course it’s amateur. But there’s something there, I think. There is, most importantly, potential. On reading my horoscope to me only yesterday (October 14, 2011), my boss mentioned untapped talent. I had no clue what that might be. She answered immediately, “your writing!” I thought about it and agreed. I could say I have some talent for writing, and that potential is as yet untapped, since I rarely spend time on it, since I am lazy, fearful, and most of all plagued by the belief that I have nothing to write, that there are no stories begging to be told. I’m lamentably not like Frances Itani, who says her brain is teeming with so many ideas she can barely find the time to write them all. My mind, in contrast, feels like a barren wasteland.
Hence my obsession with Sarah Selecky, author of This Cake is for the Party, a collection of short stories that may in fact change my life. How dramatic that sounds! How I pfft when people claim, “this changed my life!” I think, really? That big, huh? It changed your life how? I can never answer questions like that, about what book or movie or whatever actually changed my life. I can be deeply affected by something, but ultimately life goes on as usual.
But Sarah’s stories, and her understanding of what it means to want to write and to be faced with so many mental obstacles that you can’t, have actually given me a little nudge out the door. As Bilbo once said, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.” That sentence makes me smack my lips with delight. It’s delicious. It’s full of potential.
And it’s wonderfully true for the reader but also true for the writer. It’s exciting, isn’t it? That does not make me fearful; instead it imbues me with hope, with a sense of adventure. What if I overcome my fears and start writing? What if the writing turns out good, and encouraging, and then that makes me start creating more, and I have ideas, and I don’t stop? What if I write something important? What if people like it and it gets published?
Hence this website, where I hope I will regularly practise writing fiction. It’s public because I believe the feedback of others is crucial to both improvement and motivation and inspiration. If I believed in myself enough to say I could stick to a challenge, I’d take on the project of writing a scene or story every day in answer to Sarah’s writing prompts. But perhaps it won’t be every day. However many times, it must be at least once a week. One of those prompts actually led me to write a story and submit it to her Little Bird contest. As I said, she nudged me out the door. After fifteen years! Although it didn’t place, I’ve thought it might fit into a collection, and I’ve had the idea for another collection as well.
This is a new day for me, to be thinking what if good things happen, instead of what if bad things happen. All it’s taken are Sarah’s stories and the writing of a few others, like Katrina Best, the encouragement of other writers and friends, and this video, again by Sarah. I say “all it’s taken,” as though that is so little, because I am the type of person who waits for stuff to change my life. Because I’ve been waiting so long, it feels as though it would indeed take something earth-shattering to change my thinking and spur me to perpetual action. Instead, it’s taken something very simple: the right words by a handful of people.
The exciting part about all this for me? Not only the absolute pleasure of writing more than only emails and blog posts, but also this: that there’s no knowing where I might be swept off to!