Have you ever had that moment when you realise what path you are meant to take in life?
I had it during a film. Before I had considered being a lawyer or maybe a marketer. However, I watched a film called Stuck in Love and half way through something clicked. I saw myself in these characters. The film itself is based around a family of writers who are discovering or rediscovering love again. Personally, I feel the original title of Writers is better than Stuck in Love, but that’s sort of irrelevant. The film explores how writers are natural creatures. If you want to write then you will no matter what, but if you want to have something to write about then you have to live as well. “Writers are the sum of their experiences,” the character, Bill Borgens states to his son, Rusty.
While watching that film, I could see so much of myself in those characters. I had a constant urge to write. Ideas swirled around my head, forming characters and stories that needed to be put down on paper. Can you imagine if you had all those ideas in your head without the urge to write them down? You’d probably have to go see a therapist. I find myself begging for another journal to write down every thought that comes to my mind. A new Parker pen to scribble down notes about characters and places. Then we have the moral truths that I feel need to be told throughout my story, through my characters and their journeys.
But one thing struck me immediately after finishing the film. Doubt. I couldn’t be a writer. I wasn’t very good. Well I didn’t think so, but whenever I wrote something, others would say how good it was and how talented I was. The issue was that I did not believe them because I was a B-grade English student. How could I ever be a published writer if I could only reach a B in English at A-level.
I was depressed about the whole idea. In February when my parents had taken me down south to London and we’d been out exploring the capitol all day. We’d reached a small Costa Coffee and ordered drinks. My Dad realised that he’d left his bag in the last shop we’d been in. I couldn’t be bothered going back with them so I promised to stay in the café while they went back for it. I pulled out a book I’d found in a charity shop. It was titled ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King. I would say buying the book was the highlight of my day, but it was what happened next that made it life-changing.
I was sat with my hot chocolate, reading the book when a voice said, ‘So you want to be a writer do you?’
I looked around to see a man standing opposite me. It took me a moment to compose myself because I’d read this man’s novels growing up. He was a master of the art and he was a major inspiration to me when I originally started reading. His kid spy novels were what moved me on to reading Ian Fleming. I’ll keep his identity a secret because I want to keep this memory for myself. To keep the advice he gave me as a personal push.
‘Yes, I think so.’
‘Wrong.’ He sat down in what had been my Dad’s seat. ‘You don’t want to be a writer at all.’
At the time, I was confused and honestly a little hurt. This man was telling me that I couldn’t be a writer.
He either read my mind or just knew what I was thinking. ‘If you took that as a negative then you don’t want to be a writer, you already are a writer. Being an artist of any kind isn’t a want. It is a state of being. You know you are a writer. The want is to write. No one will understand unless they are an artist themselves. They won’t understand that telling stories through the crafting of language is the only way people like use can live.’
We chatted a little more about what I was thinking and he said that if I wanted to write then I just had to read a lot and then just write what I wanted to write. When I returned home, I started searching for degree that would allow me to develop the skill. That’s how I ended up in Liverpool.
But again that all changed when I arrived here. That doubt came back and pushed the idea out of my mind. I actually forgot about it for a long time. I decided in my first week here that I would become a teacher. It’s amazing how fickle the mind can be at times.
I had a friend at fencing who really wanted a tattoo of a camera because she had just started getting really into photography. So she got the tattoo and three month later got bored of photography. Now she regrets that tattoo very much. But hey, she’s now doing a degree in marketing. But that’s my point. Our minds are so fickle and my mind threw away my dream of being a writer because of fear and because of doubt.
But a doubting mind never lasts long against the mind of a true dreamer and a true believer. Mr Collins reignited that spark that I had drenched in doubt. I’m writing now. I’m writing this and it feels amazing. Creating a story out of words. Moulding them to my will to create these sentences and these ideas.
The interesting fact about the mind and the idea of having a true calling is that at times you can very much interested in something and then go off it and never touch it again. Or you can be totally into something, find yourself doubting your ability, leaving it and then finding yourself drawn back to it, finding it impossible to stay away from. That is how I feel about writing. I don’t just want to write, I have to write. My mind won’t let me do anything else.