Over the past six months I have been interning at a not-for-profit writer’s organisation. I have absolutely loved my time there and I am sad that I only have two weeks left with a great team and helping out with whatever tasks they have thrown my way.
One of the best things about this internship, other than getting some valuable industry experience for my master’s degree, has been just spending time around other writers – people who are passionate about the craft of writing, and the beauty of words and story.
I come from a family and group of friends who value books. I grew up in a house where the walls are covered in bookshelves, and there isn’t a room that isn’t decorated with some sort of published material. My Mum and Dad have always used words like ‘facetious’ (OED: Treating serious issues with deliberately inappropriate humour; flippant.) and obtuse (OED: annoyingly insensitive or slow to understand) even when we were too little to understand, let alone spell, these words. They fostered in me a love of the depth and breadth of the English language, and to this day I love to use words to illustrate my experience of the world we live in. I see no point in playing down a well-rounded vocabulary, or ignoring a word because it might make you sound like you swallowed a dictionary. Some days you aren’t merely happy you are jubilant or ecstatic; other days sad isn’t going to cut it because really you are just melancholy, or you have really descended into depression and become disconsolate.
These words have purpose, they came about for a reason, and that is to express how we feel, what we see, what we think. So use your words.
I loved words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.
While I have been interning I felt like I have found another tribe I belong to – alongside my running tribe, my baking tribe, my blogging tribe, my English murder mystery TV show tribe. I feel that I have found a creative tribe: people who love words and storytelling and believe in the power of being able to write and create worlds and characters and then send that out into the great published void for others to enjoy.
When I went back to study last year I woke the sleeping dragon of creativity that had been dormant within me for some time. Now, she is hungry. Everything is a possible story. Every landscape begs to be populated with characters or stripped down to its essence and rebuilt as something entirely new. I feel the buds of new beginnings, stories to be told, growing beneath my fingertips or at the blunted tip of my pencil. I have spoken about my deeply-held desire to be a writer, no not just a writer: a storyteller, a dream-weaver, someone who plucks possibilities from the air and creates something, someone, entirely new with only the border of a page to limit me.
My long-term, one day, maybe someday, dream is to write full-time. For now I know every writer must serve their apprenticeship. There must be time to chip away at the coalface and haul up buckets of rough stone before you reach the diamonds concealed below. I am at peace with this. I feel the need to write, to be creative running through my veins, but I am a willing apprentice.
What would I write? Oh, everything: fantastical stories of human courage and magic; romance and reality and the power of love over everything else; cookbooks and food memoir and enchantment of the simplest dish; perhaps a screenplay one day…who knows.
The main point is to not wait until that one day, maybe someday, to start writing today. The point is to write now; to stretch my creative muscles and build their strength just as I strengthen my body while training for half marathons; to use my grey matter to help those story buds to mature and burst into beautiful bloom on the page. My goal is to write every day. Write something: a blog post, a recipe, part of one of the stories I am working on. My major goal is to hand in a manuscript by March next year. My goal is to be creative because chaining down the dragon that lives inside me is futile. She must roar, breathe her creative fire, and devour what she sees, and bring to life the stories that live inside.
Those who fear the imagination condemn it: something childish, they say, something monsterish, misbegotten. Not all of us dream awake. But those of us who do have no choice.
Patricia A. McKillip