I am by nature a quiet and introspective kind of person. When I am alone, I’m often found going deep within to reflect on any number of things––myself, people, and situations I may encounter in my day to day life. If you were to get inside my head, it’s constantly swimming in thoughts and emotions I’m trying to process. This is why I tend to keep and write personal journals. It’s an outlet to pour whatever I feel or think in written form. The pages become a vessel to unburden myself from the noise and crowding in my head that may have gotten too difficult to carry for a long period of time. It’s also a form of writing that helps heal me and pushes me to honestly and critically assess myself as I am now and who I still want to be in the future. Among my inner reflections lately has included the ongoing struggle of writing and finishing my novel.
Before starting and writing this blog, I’ve always been an avid storyteller. From my teen years and throughout my college life, I wrote Sailor Moon fanfiction for fun after feeling inspired by a number of fanfiction writers who wrote really good stories about their favorite Sailor Scouts and Tuxedo Mask. I had ideas popping into my head and I felt there were stories I really wanted to write that others haven’t really thought of yet. By the time I finished college, post-college life proved to be a struggle for a few years. I became preoccupied with the process of starting a career I could be proud of and it in turn eventually drained away what little motivation I had for some things. This included creative writing.
I started tinkering with an original fantasy novel idea around the time I was finishing school. I had the ideas and themes I wanted for it outlined in a small notebook. I began writing it and kept at it for a while, as I started moving past writing Sailor Moon fanfiction. When life demanded more of my time and energy, the creativity I once relied on to fuel my passion to be a writer snapped under the pressure from personal hardships I was enduring and that creativity remained dormant for many years. I only started reawakening to the idea and pursuit of committing to my novel venture fully in the last two or three years.
I wish I could say it’s extremely easy to jump back into a passion you once loved after many years of leaving it behind for a while. The truth? It’s tough. I revisited the old Word document to recall what it was I was trying to write, but actually writing where I left off or even starting from scratch was a terrifying experience. You may be wondering how a passion you love can be scary. It’s simple really––a number of emotions and thoughts will start invading every corner of your mind, as if the pipes burst and it’s rapidly flooding every empty space you can imagine. You become critical, you know what you want to write but don’t know how to execute it, you never think your writing is good enough, or you think it’s safer to close the Word document and forget you ever wanted to try at all. Many writers, including the best-selling authors, would all agree on this one indisputable fact––we’re our own harshest critic. It comes with the territory of being an artist and creative type.
Reaching a point in my life where you become acutely aware of the fallacy of the phrase “I have all the time in the world to do X,” the reality is we don’t have as much time as we think we do. At least we find ourselves wasting more time than actually using it to our advantage. We tell ourselves we have plenty of time to pursue a goal or dream later until it becomes a go-to phrase to make more excuses as to why we can’t do something. The truth is there may never be a perfect day to get started or a time you’ll ever be ready. I spent the entirety of my 20s putting off what has always been tugging at my heart for a really long time, even in midst of my personal struggles. I chose to ignore the tugging because it got too difficult and it felt easier to not address what I knew would be a difficult venture. Being in my 30s has put certain things into perspective. Fear was the root of keeping me from doing what I know I still wanted to do. I never outgrew writing or my creative mind. It was quietly waiting for me to sit up and take notice of it once again.
The older I get the more I realize I don’t want to live a huge portion of my life with regrets. The voices of what ifs or if onlys tend to get louder and more uncomfortable as time passes. Ignoring or denying any part of what you truly want becomes impossible to do. While I am still young and capable enough, I don’t want to waste away my 30s having done nothing to at least make an effort to pursue my dreams. Among those dreams and goals is finishing the novel I started.
The difficulty about pursuing a dream is the constant struggle to make time for it and ignoring the negative critics in your head. The current process of writing a novel has been filled with challenges, such as being brave enough to dump what’s no longer working and beginning again. No one likes to invest time and effort into a passion project only to discover it’s not clicking the way you want it to. Writing is a process of rewriting and maybe doing some more rewriting. I’ve already thrown out three versions of my novel and I’m currently working on my fourth. You may think I’m crazy, but the only way I’m going to see my novel through to completion is by feeling a flow in my writing than a sense of pushing against a boulder of what’s not working from a narrative standpoint. The draft doesn’t have to be perfect on the first try, but my vision should have most of the pieces falling together as I go back to rewrite and edit it until it’s good enough in my eyes.
Am I still scared? Hell yeah, I’m terrified. Is this something I still want to do and accomplish for myself? Yes, and that yes is far louder than the fear still nestled within the back corners of my mind. Sometimes, our fears and doubts are merely excuses to talk ourselves down from doing something because it’s our way of protecting ourselves from failure and what’s not readily known. We ultimately can’t cave into those kinds of fears because no one will ever get anything done. We stay safe in our comfort zones, and the biggest tragedy is waking up one day realizing you regret not taking the chances that were offered to you because you let your fears get in the way. We only have one life to make the most of what we want and need for ourselves. Playing it too safe or denying what we truly want will only bring unhappiness and misery in the long run.
I crave to live the life I envision for myself and if it means getting uncomfortable and being forced to face my fears, then I rather do that. Life is about fulfilling your purpose and feeling happy doing it. It’d be a great disservice to us all if we didn’t at least try and work towards living a full life, whether it’s slowly saving enough money to travel the world or starting your own business. All that’s required from us is taking that first step and keep going from there.