A jar of quotes

When I was teaching myself how to write, I kept a small jar of quotes beside me. They kept as a reminder of the reasons why I chose to become a writer.

If there was ever a day where I was easily discouraged, I would pick a few quotes out of the jar and read them silently to myself.

Afterwards, I almost always found my courage again.

Today I picked a quote from the jar and it said:

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes it’s the quiet voice saying I will try again tomorrow.”

These are the quiet steps taken by a writer. And if not tomorrow, then the day after tomorrow, or even fifty years later, all these words will culminate into something it was always meant to be.

As I close the lid to my jar of quotes, I know that there are many more writers hiding out there.

How do you find your courage to write?

Wandering without a religion

People always find it strange when I tell them that I don’t have a religion, as if I should’ve been born with one, like the hair on my head, or the skin on my back.

All I can say to them is that I never came with one. My parents aren’t religious, but they’re not atheists either. I always have to add in this last part as if not being religious automatically classifies us in opposition with whatever religion people believe in.

But from time to time, when I feel lost and out of my element, I have yearned for the guidance and support that people in community groups receive.

And the question that sometimes springs to my head is: How do I belong? Where do I belong if I don’t belong there?

Over time I have discovered that I belong in libraries and bookshops, in the comfort of an author’s words. Whenever I need guidance, I turn to books for advice and in them I find solace.

Who’s to say that reading isn’t a religion in itself, when it’s brought me great purpose and taught me how to have an open mind?

Wandering alone in the dark, I found my religion in their words.

Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to them: To find words for what we already know. ~Alberto Manguel.

The stutterer who writes

The way I speak is different to the way I write. When I speak, I stutter, and feel like such a grown-up fool. I’ve tried to talk slowly, but busy people look at me uncomfortably, and try to hurry me along.

When I write, I also stutter. But a blank page is more patient than a person, so I let myself stumble and play with the words before I get it right.

You might be a stutterer like me, but in a different area of your life. You might stumble in your relationships and fall down many times in your career.

But don’t worry. The stutterer in you is searching for a place to flourish.

Tomorrow, when I return to the place of Impatience, I’m going to remind myself that there’s a blank page waiting for me to shine.

What’s in a story?

Tamora Pierce once said that writing is like training for a marathon.

“Don’t worry if you never finish all the stories you start. You wouldn’t expect yourself to run a marathon straight away. You train yourself by running short distances. So keep practising, keep writing, and you’ll build up the muscles you need for the full novel.”

This takes me back to my first few attempts at storytelling. I always wondered why I could never get past the beginning:

In primary school, I set up a beautiful description of a haunted house and then nothing happened. The story just fizzled out.

In intermediate, I was so fixated with perfecting every word, that I never got past the first sentence.

And then somewhere in adulthood, I decided to get one word past the beginning, then one line past the beginning, and then, one sentence!

I can now write two chapters in one sitting. Kind of ok, right?

So, this is what it looks like when you start training yourself for that novel:

When you write often, you begin to see the kinds of stories you care about.

When you write long enough, you begin to use your own words.

When you write everyday, you begin to develop the ability to sit still for hours.

When you write even when you hate your writing, you develop patience and endurance.

And when you write each and every day, you’ll realise how powerful words with direction can be.

That’s what a story is. Not how perfect the words are, but the direction they’re taking you; towards that sentence, towards that paragraph, towards that chapter and finally, towards that last word in your novel.

How great would that feel?