“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
– Maya Angelou
Everybody, at one time or another, had an imaginary friend. You didn’t? Oh okay. Some people had imaginary friends. I was one of those who had them. Imaginary friends were our companions. Our partners in crime. They were the people we talked to when no one wanted to play or talk to us in the playground, when we just did not fit in, or were just too uncool to be around with. These companions were made flesh from the thoughts and ideas flitting through our young minds. They were our creations - buffers for our hurts, the comfort to our loneliness, the cheering squad to our joy, the magic seed fuelling our imaginations. As we grew older and hopefully, a little wiser (and on occasion being a wise-ass ;) ), they became the characters that inhabited our stories, and laid claim to a world we created in our books.
I have always loved reading and that spurned my interest in writing. Writing to me was and is like breathing and I don’t think there was ever a time that I didn’t write. Except maybe when I went to sleep. Then again, even in my dreams I was plotting. I didn’t realize either that was what it was called then.
The first time I placed words to paper to create a semblance of a story was when I opened the first page of my very first diary. A lot of firsts, isn’t it? I placed all of my thoughts, my fears, my hurts, my hopes in those pages in my chicken scratch. My desk became my go to place, and the drawer where I kept my diary was my treasure chest, eagerly sliding it open like Midas addicted to the sight of gold. At the same time I became enamoured with mysteries and thrillers, scaring myself to sleep that I literally had a flashlight underneath my pillow. Years later, I fell in love with romance novels and from there my wishful thinking brought about the first visions of and introduction to Calliope, the muse of writing.
My first attempts at crafting stories was rushed. Hurried. I didn’t know any better then. I thought that one draft was enough so I sent it to a family friend who made a living as a writer, and asked her to read it. Gentle in her advice, she said that I had to hone the way I wrote, not to rush things but to develop the story. To me, at that time, it was a death knell. Yes, I was that sensitive, go fig. Little did I realize that this kind encouragement was nothing compared to the gut wrenching and nearly belief destroying rejection letters I would get decades later.That alone should have stopped me, but similar to what Ms Angelou said, it was uncomfortable not being able to tell the stories my imagination had conjured. It was like being stifled by one’s own skin. So I started to write, collected rejection letters, learned from the naysayers, became grateful for the advice and lessons received from other authors and literary agents.
And I have never looked back.
So, why do I write? Is it because I’m a sucker for pain? Is it because I’m afraid that the stories I craft, the creation of my mind spurred by my imaginary friends may be ripped to pieces by trolls? Or analysed constructively by well-meaning readers so that I improve and hone my craft?
Trolls will always be there, lurking under the bridges waiting to pounce for no other reason but to find perverted joy in destruction. Well-meaning readers? They are like the lapidaries that cut and polish diamonds. They see beyond the rough. Those are the people I value.
I write because I’m a storyteller. I write because I want to share the voices of my characters and the stories they have. I write because it sets me and my characters free to add in some small way to the stories that open the doors to the world of imaginary friends.
This was an article I contributed to http://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/ one of Author Marie Lavander's blogs.