Tag Archives: The Art of Writing

All dreams matter, not just those on national television.

6 Aug

As surprising as it may seem, I don’t like watching the Olympics. However, before all the confusion and rage surfaces, let me explain why.

Even though I understand that the Olympics holds the motto of “follow your dreams” and “anything is possible,” I also believe that there are so many people in the world who may be in the same situation except for the fact that the majority of those people aren’t being cheered for on national television. I can guarantee that there are people in the world today who are working incredibly hard to follow a lifelong dream. However, instead of receiving the satisfaction of having billions of people cheering for them, they settle for the realization that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is symbolic of their dreams becoming a reality.

I do believe that the Olympics does show the hard road that so many people face when it comes to making their dreams a reality. It’s not a walk in the park. It takes determination, strength, persistence, and above all, heart. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” For anyone who has had a dream that is not easily attainable but still is what they strive for, they know how much heart it takes. In my opinion, heart is at the very center of seeing your dreams become a reality. You’ve got to want it. You’ve got to want it more than anything.

I’m reminded of what it means to follow your dreams based on 2 movies, Akeelah and the Bee and August RushAkeelah and the Bee tells the story of a young girl from South Los Angeles who tries to make it to the National Spelling Bee. Akeelah spends a lot of time training for the National Spelling Bee with a coach, and during one of her training days, her coach asks her to read the following quote by Marianne Williamson:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

In my opinion, this quote really speaks to the concept of following your dreams. Though we may try and try and try to remain positive when chasing our dreams, fear runs through all of us, but more precisely, the fear of failure. However, though the fear of failure is present in every one of us to some extent, it’s important that we don’t let it overpower us. As a writer, even though I worry about failing, I also know that I’m already writing. A few published articles and writing a blog post every single day since November of last year is proof of the fact that I am following my dream. Though I’m currently not a well-known published author, I’m doing what needs to be done in order to get there: I’m reading a lot and writing a lot.

The movie August Rush also talks about following your dreams or your heart to achieve something greater. It is the story of an orphaned musical prodigy who uses his gift as a clue to finding his birth parents. In the movie, Robin Williams plays the character of Wizard, who says this,

You got to love music more than you love food. More than life. More than yourself.

As much as failure plays into following your dreams, you’ve got to be sure that it’s something you love and something that you are willing to keep on chasing no matter how many times it seems to slip away. I’ve learned that the hard way in terms of my writing. Though I love it, it took me a long time to realize that writing wasn’t something I simply wanted to do…it was something I needed to do.

Therefore, in terms of not really watching the Olympics…though I understand the reasoning behind watching it and wanting to cheer on your own country, I simply believe that it’s also important to realize that every single person in the world has a dream. It may not be as momentous as the dreams that are discussed on national television, but that doesn’t mean that those dreams are any less important. Sometimes even the small dreams hold just as much weight, if not more.

Advertisements

How Do You Deal With Criticism, Writer’s Block And Burnout?

2 May

This past Friday, I met up with one of my writing mentors, Mike, that I hadn’t seen in over 2 years. It was great to see him, and we had a great hour and a half conversation about writing, life, struggles, etc. Since Mike is one of those people who is a writer himself and will tell me the honest truth, sometimes I’m a bit hesitant to share what I’ve written with him.

I have yet to share any part of my book with him because I feel like I’m still in the early stage of writing my memoir. I only started writing at the end of January, and I’ve only written about 12 pages (which I’m not exactly proud of. However, I was dealing with schoolwork up until a little less than a week ago, so what can you do?). Though I’ve only written 12 pages, at this point, I’m still very close to those 12 pages of my life, my heart, and ultimately, my soul. Those 12 pages are memories that I’ve pulled directly from my heart and written down. They aren’t changed in any way. They are as close to the actual truth that I have been able to get (since I’ve realized that I’ve blocked out a good chunk of memories due to their degree of pain). Deep down, I’m not ready to share anything yet. I still feel so emotionally close to what I’ve written so far. I mean, it’s my life. It’s what I felt, not just physically, but emotionally too. How can I turn it over to someone to critique just yet? I understand that dealing with criticism is a huge part of being a writer. I also understand that I’m going to get good and bad criticism, and it’s important to focus on the good criticism since that is the advice that will propel me forward. However, I just feel like it’s too soon. Does that make sense?

Now that I’m done with academics until the fall semester (or until I study abroad in Ireland in June), I have the time to sit down with my memoir and try to sort through as many memories as I can that I have yet to write down. However, at this point, I’m just not sure where to go. I sit down to write, and nothing comes out. I think it’s primarily because I’m not in the right mindset for the memories to surface. The things that I want to share aren’t particularly happy, so sitting down to write when I’m in a relatively cheerful mood doesn’t get me anywhere. Though I understand that the writing process isn’t something that occurs overnight, it’s hard to wait when I just want to finally get all the painful memories out. They’ve been buried inside for so long. We all have to face our demons eventually. I may as well start now.

When I talked with Mike on Friday, he made the comment that my memoir is something that I shouldn’t force, and since it is such a delicate topic for me, it’s something that I should try to not get too frustrated over. However, since the process of writing is frustrating anyway, some frustration is normal. I think the best advice Mike gave me was to start another writing project (as well as working on my memoir). He pointed out that since my memoir is such an emotionally heavy project, it’d be good to work on something light on the side. Whether it’s poetry or a short story, working on another project is good when I’m stuck on my memoir. Mike said “Even if you write a short story about bunnies, you’re writing. That’s all that matters.” Mike has made a point to tell me that writing every day is an important part of writing. Even though I’ve seen the benefits of that (through this blog, mainly), I guess I didn’t consider starting another writing project.

I didn’t consider starting to write something other than my memoir because my memoir was taking up so much of my emotional energy. However, now that I take a second look at it, I guess that’s why people take on multiple writing projects….to give their mind a break from focusing on the same writing project day in and day out. I know that since I’ve started my memoir, there have been days that I just don’t feel like working on it. However, in the back of my mind, I know that I’ve got to work on something if I want my writing spark to stay alive. There have been previous times in my life when I’ve taken breaks from writing, but not just a break from a particular writing project, but a break from writing altogether. Even though in those instances I’ve eventually returned to writing, the breaks from writing have made it even harder to get back into the swing of things.

So, moral of the story: Write every day (no matter what), don’t let a certain writing project burn you out (start something else to keep your writing juices flowing, while also allowing yourself to have a break from the first writing project), and don’t give up (I know writing is frustrating, but for the few of us who love it, writing is our passion, our love, and the only way we can accurately portray ourselves).

Are you ever hesitant to share something you’ve written because you’re too emotionally close to it? How do you deal with criticism? Would you rather focus on one writing project at a time or split your time between two different writing projects and why? I’d love feedback from you fellow writers! 

Tuesday’s Tunes And Advice From A Writing Mentor

27 Mar

I keep up with one of my writing mentors, Mike, pretty regularly. Recently, I’ve told him how the progress on my book is going and the different feelings I’ve been having. I thought I’d share what I sent to him and what he replied:

From Me to Mike: Though writing this book has been incredibly therapeutic, I’ve found that it has also caused me to bury deeper into myself. Though that is good in terms of growing individually and learning more about myself, it also creates a sense of loneliness that I know many writers struggle with. Though I have support from friends and family, they don’t quite understand the ability to get so lost in words that reality seems far away. Though many years ago I used to welcome the escape from reality that writing provided for me, now it seems to be more detrimental than beneficial.
There are days when I’m just lost in the words, in the memories, and climbing out takes more strength than simply sitting among the memories. It’s hard to plunge into shades of grey to write out my feelings. Then again, the only way to do this sort of thing is to just write. Write to breathe, to communicate, to connect, to truly live. The urge that I have to write in order to survive is strong, though sometimes being “in the dark place” for too long can be frightening. However, I’ve come to realize that in those places….the places of total fear and memories…are the places that I’ll be able to come face to face with who I truly am.
Through my writing, I’ve finally found my voice, which is something I remember you telling me the importance of a few years ago. Often times, people are surprised when they read some of my work only to find out that I’m as young as I am. However, though I am told how mature I am at my age, I remember that I came face to face with the reality of life at a very young age: the reality that life is hard and that the most important things one can achieve in life are never easy. Can you relate to any of this? The dark places…the shades of grey…the loneliness? How have you handled it?

From Mike To Me: My friend Tom Poland, who has made his living as a writer, thinks all good writers are flawed individuals; whether from an internal defect or something traumatic that happened in their life. I don’t necessarily agree, but a lot of us are. No one else quite understands how the process affects us. Other writers all understand the loneliness.
I am by nature a positive person and see the humor even in the darkest of times. I also find that writing about those dark days, times, and feelings is therapeutic for me. We all have dark days, periods of nothingness, and insecurity.
People who want to write, to open up their heart, put it on display and allow others to pass judgment on what is written, are different from the rest. If you want to write, whether you eventually become recognized or paid for the effort, you must have some of those feelings. Writers are more introspective, see things differently, and analyze events and feelings different from other people.
I have had a relatively simple and ordinary life. You have suffered and endured more already than I have in my whole life so far. I can’t begin to relate to what it must be to try and dig up some of the things you find deep inside. I do think it is important to do it, even if no one ever reads it but you (and hopefully me). The writing is the important part. It begins to take shape as you sweat over every word and you become stronger with each deeply hidden scrap you uncover.
Guy Clark wrote a song recently called Hemingway’s Whiskey, about the art of writing. It is simple as are most of his songs. Kenny Chesney recorded a version on the Lucky Old Sun album. Listen to an old man’s version of what you are feeling and stay in touch with me.
I am with you all the way and know what you are feeling. I am also extremely proud of you, as if you were one of my own. Keep digging and keep me informed.

Words cannot express the gratefulness I have towards Mike for always being truthful when it comes to the art of writing, while also being supportive and giving me the push I need to believe in myself. I’ve struggled with believing in myself for quite some time, and when I can see how much others believe in me, it gives me a spark of hope….a small glimpse that maybe the dream of sharing my story with the world could one day become a reality. However, like Mike said, writing is the important part (no matter if it’s published or not). I understand what he means by that, especially since so many times he’s reminded me how therapeutic the simple act of writing is. The knowledge that I’ll be a stronger person after I’ve uncovered all that has been hidden is another motivator, another push to keep on writing until all I feel is relief and joy.