Back in 2013, I went through my wishes and discovered I had a big wish — looming and raising its head above water since some time but pushed and hidden until then — to write and share. But I had this idea that I didn’t want to write a book. A didn’t consider a short story (in which I had gathered some practice by then) being a book and writing a novel appeared to be daunting and too long to wait until it’s done. I thought I couldn’t be as patient as other authors and wait long until my books were published.
I wanted to share immediately after creating something. Starting a blog was the solution.
Around this time I read a German translation of the book titled “Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within” by Natalie Goldberg and found there the following words:
“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”
There was one story that surfaced again and again. At first I thought it was my sad story of having lost my father when I was ten years old. I was sorry for myself for not being able to talk to him as adults would do. I judged others when I saw them arguing with their fathers. I was sorry that I didn’t know him in my teenager years, to be able to argue with him, to laugh with him, to earn his approval for the way I’ve chosen, to share my thoughts with him.
Tasting the experience of instantaneous transformation and practicing awareness of my tricky thought processes changed everything. I understood that I was victimizing myself and avoiding something. Then I realized what it was.
I was avoiding my father’s story. His story of having lost his family during World War II and trying to find them. How he thought he found them but gained the disappointment of rejection in return. I thought his story was a very sad one.
So I pushed it away. But it kept coming back. Now thinking back I understand that it was natural for it to come back. This story is a part of my family heritage. It is a part of me.
Back then I resisted it, and resisted some more. But it kept coming back and I grew tired of this internal fight. I needed to address it. Even if I was afraid of it and the emotional processes I might go through when addressing it.
Natalie Goldberg’s words came to aid and this idea “Maybe I should write about it” start appearing and re-appearing and intriguing me with exponentially growing intensity.
This happened actually very fast because hardly a few months after I started writing my blog I started writing a novel about my father.
As soon as started, the process ran almost seamlessly. I experimented with voices, with characters, stories, settings, whole chapters, grew frustrated about some of them. But the question about to write or not to write a book disappeared. I was simply too deep inside the whole adventure to worry about this.
Only after about the half way through the book, or rather at the end I started again fearing working on this book and on this story. But it was already too late. Quite a few people knew about it and liked it. Quitting was not an option. Probably also because explaining the reasons about giving up would take much more effort than finishing it. The story itself and the way I wrote it was at least partially responsible for cementing those, who heard of it, as my cheerleaders. The conclusion was simple: I couldn’t disappoint my readers and fans. I had to finish it.
And so I did. I finished it, revised, revised some more, let others read it, revised again, had it edited and read again. And then one night last year I published it. My first book was born.
And another was already on the way. I was eager to write and create more books. I tasted the joy and magic of creating and I witnessed what effect my creations had on others. They ignited something in others very personal to them. I witnessed people smile and heard from my mother how pleasantly surprised our relatives in Moldova were when the found out about the book. She told me about the hugs they gave her and the memories they shared with her about my father.
A brief fear that writing one novel was one time wonder disappeared as soon as I published my second book last Christmas.
Then a short story came out last month as a book. Now I blog several books in parallel and I finished already some of them in the first draft. The lines you read will belong to yet another book.
Yes, the person who writes these lines was sure she would never write a book, and even that she didn’t want it. The truth I discovered was that I not only want to write books, but I also need this. Writing my first book closed many wounds I thought were open. I found that my father’s story was a wonderful, wonderful story, with some sad but also many joyful, and all of them deep and special moments.
After this experience I am sure that any person — if he or she wants it — can write a book and create something very special. All we have to own is a wish to do it, a will to pursue and passion accelerating us towards completion.
I discovered that I had all three. It was an amazing discovery. And with every new project I discover this again and again.
You might think, “It’s all well and good for you. But I won’t be able to write a book. I was thinking about it. But I have so much on my plate. It is simply not possible. I will never manage it.” If you think any of these then please consider the following.
If you gather all the mails, all the posts on social media you have written, you might discover that have you authored an encyclopedia.
You might argue that this is not creative and that it was not quite for a higher purpose.
Are you sure? Was there, among your e-mails or posts, one directed to uplift or support a friend or a member of your family? I bet there was. And I bet more than one! Then I also bet that if you read them you would discover beautiful metaphors, analogies and stories you shared.
Of course we might argue for hours, you wanting to prove that you can’t, and I trying to show you the opposite.
And we both will be right. Because there are moments when we stay in our way and also moments when we let ourselves be creative.
And we both might be wrong, right? From the point of view of the other.
So let’s just take the chair of the other and consider how this changes our points of view.
If I sit on yours, I look around, draw a deep breath and see. Yes, even now, after having published a PhD thesis and three books, I still have the moments where I think, I can’t write books. Especially likable ones. Those which are bought and read and those that ignite a wish to read more coming from my pen. My thoughts also try to convince me that those books I have written and published were a case of pure luck, of some unknown force pushing me through. That I have no power on my own to accomplish this. Yes, I still have these thoughts and they pop up during my writing and ask for my attention.
Now, what if you sat on the optimistic chair I sat on before? Can you see that you can do it?
I think here, some good old cliches are very much in place.
Everyone has a book in them. And if you set up your mind to it you can write one. And many more after that.
Picture: my three books. My third paperback is somewhere on the way to Denmark, so you see it here as an e-book.
“Cheerleading For Writers”, copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels