Have you asked yourself the following questions: A writer? Who me? What makes a writer?
What makes an outwardly normal person, like me, want to coop myself up in a room with only a computer (and maybe some music) for company, creating, dreaming and talking to imaginary characters in a world that does not exist outside my own mind? I call it a passion for imaginative creativity.
Art and writing have always been my first and true loves – I don’t mention my real life hero, who’s truly my Mr. Right, or my witty 11 year old daughter who’s the miracle and joy of our lives – here I reminisce on my childhood loves that helped me single-handedly escape into the wondrous world of books, where anything is possible. I believed in the love stories, contemporary Mills & Boon, as well as historical romances, and that there really is true love and a soul mate for each of us who dream about it and seek it out.
“You can do anything that you put your mind to.” My Mum’s words always stuck with me. And as I wasn’t hankering after marrying the Prince of England, or even any member of royalty, or wanting to be a rocket scientist, but a mere writer and artist, I reasoned all I had to do was practice as much as I could in any spare time I had, and enjoy the creative process. That’s exactly what I did.
At the age of nine, my family and I left Uzbekistan (then still called Russia) where three of our generations were born, and then living in Israel and Austria for a few short years, we finally made our home in London, England. When at fourteen my new friend Angie, from next door fell hook, line and sinker for my imaginary story of having a boy-friend named Edward who drives a red sports-car – OK, I wasn’t into cars in those days, and didn’t know if it was a Lamborghini, Ferrari or a Ford Fiesta – but I knew at that moment what I was destined to do in my life. I was going to be a prolific fiction writer.
I devoured books – both fiction and ‘how to write and get published’ books, and filled many an exercise book (about 60, I believe) with intense love stories, named, “Heart of Stone in Paradise” and “Unfaithfully Yours” and “Love Campaign”, some in exotic locations I’ve never traveled to, but could visualize in my mind’s eye, and some in the city I was growing up in.
But as life teaches us, with well meaning parents – who sometimes say nothing when looking at your work – make us feel that we should bring our heads down from the clouds and get “a real job”. I majored in English Literature, English, Russian and Art. Then I decided to become a secretary. Well, the typing alone would be most beneficial, I justified.
My writing and my art still featured in my teens and early twenties, but I didn’t push it as hard as I wanted to during my earlier years in marriage. Reality bites, they say, and my regret is that I allowed reality to override my passion for creativity. Then there were the five years of desperately trying for a baby. My brush with “unexplained infertility” gave me a deeper appreciation of life as well as of my family. That alone inspired many a story.
It was only in my early thirties with a baby in my arms that a story came to me. The whole novel unraveled in my mind like the scenes of a movie playing out in front of me. I wrote down the whole outline in one and half hours. My pen never left the pad. Talk about being in the zone. When I wrote the last piece of dialogue of the synopsis, I felt as if I woke out of my reverie. I loved this story. I knew I had to write it. And write it I would.
I’m nothing if not stubborn and focused.
It took me another two years to write the first draft. I justified that I was helping my husband with his psychotherapy practice (in addition to his day job as an industrial pharmacist – that’s research and development and all that clever stuff), I had the house and a toddler to look after, (see my article “Desperately Seeking Sanity, An Inspiration for the Writing Mum” but the story of my heart was alive and burning in my imagination.
When my husband got a great career opportunity in Canada, at first I laughed, “you mean in that country three thousand miles away, where there’s LOTS of snow, seven months of the year!”
But three months later, here we were, ‘just checking it out’ as my calm and logical husband had said.
In July 1999, my husband, three-and-half year old daughter and I landed in Toronto.
In this land of opportunity, I started running a lucrative art businesses. But a few health wake up calls made me take some dramatic steps towards making my writing career a reality. With my tenacious trademark of never letting go of an idea once it lodges itself in my psyche, I closed my business in 2005 and began to learn in earnest anything and everything to do with becoming a ‘real’ writer and how to get published. See my article “From Conception to Dream Come True“, and the list of books and other resources that have been extremely helpful in the past couple of years, and what I suggest where you can start on your own unique journey.
I have opened myself up to new horizons, experiences and seeing how I can make my next dream come true. Because, this, our finite life is not a practice run, this is the real thing.
For inspiration, go to my speech, the tenth one I delivered at my local Toastmasters Club, the Golden Gavel, Its called, “Who’s the Driver of Your Destiny?”
(Written in 2007)