It was November 2010. Maybe it was a dark and stormy night, I don’t recall. But I was going through a dark night of the soul, that’s for sure.
You know, a proper dark night of the soul, when you feel your chest being crushed under the weight of so many dying dreams that nothing can offer even a bit of comfort.
When the usual hack of, “Well, others have lost empires,” doesn’t help at all.
That’s when I found out about NaNoWriMo. I found out that I could self-publish stories. On Amazon. And sell those stories to people for money, which I could then use to purchase various goods that are needed for one’s survival.
I thought it to be the best thing ever, and so I dropped out of college and started punching those damn keys.
There were a couple of things that I hadn’t thought through though:
I had never written a novel.
I had never written a novel in English.
I had no idea what it took to actually self-publish a book.
I had no one to sell the damn thing to.
But, as I’m so fond of saying, we sometimes need a lot of courage to do something. Other times, we just need to be so dumb that we have no idea what we’re getting ourselves into.
All he was aware of was her. He was aware of her face, of the dress she wore, the distance between them. In this gap, in all the words that he had yet to say to her, was the promise of a great life. His heart was beating slowly but hard. He had never felt so sure of himself, so bewildered by the ease of what he was about to do.
A friend once asked him, “How does she make you feel?”
“She reminds me of winter,” he said.
“You hate winter. You hate the cold,” this friend replied.
I’m a writer. I spent over fourteen years telling myself this. Reading at least a book a week since I was fourteen, spending hours daily punching those damn keys, hoping to be rewarded by the muse with something that someone else can call beautiful.
And, yes, from time to time I did doubt it. I still do.
We have wings glued to our backs, yet sometimes we forget that we can fly. We opt to crawl through life instead.
But the truth is that we’re all writers. In one way or another. We wouldn’t exist otherwise. You see, we have language, so we can speak. We can speak, so we can tell a story. We can tell a story, so we can write.
It’s really that simple.
People have wanted stories since they were painting them inside their caves. This desire is what’s kept The Illiad and The Odyssey alive for so long. And it isn’t just belief in God that keeps the Bible breathing.
It’s the stories.
If we didn’t need stories, the world would be perfect. Or empty.
To paraphrase Balzac, solitude is fine but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine. Life is only as beautiful as the stories that define it.
You’re alive, you have a story to tell. A story to write.