For years I’ve known the writer inside me. When I first met her, her voice was so quiet I almost didn’t notice her presence. But she was clever and learned to tug my heart so persistently I would lean in and listen more closely.
I want to write, she said over and over. Don’t you know I’m a writer? “No, I don’t think you are. You’re too small and quiet and have nothing to say, except for your endless refrains.” But I do have things to say, I just don’t know what they are right now.
Discovering what these things are has been a long process. One that’s been all the more successful by my stepping back and allowing the writer to write, to find her own way in her own time.
At first I allowed her to exercise her hand through daily journal writing and email correspondence. Not quick-fire thoughts dashed off in brief so they could be checked off a to-do list, but crafted considerations more worthy of a 19th century letter writer.
Along the way I was bolstered by others’ responses to her writing. A writer friend once commented in an email: “You can write. I know of which I speak.” And my daughter’s grandfather wrote likewise in a letter, saying I didn’t have to worry about that part of the equation, that I simply needed to get on with the business of writing.
I told you, she said triumphantly. These guys know what they’re talking about — they’re writers. I was beginning to believe she might be on to something.
Around this time I met Sean, himself a writer and creative writing teacher, who encouraged me to come to his classes. The writer inside shouted Yes, please! I, on the other hand, was terrified. It was one thing to let this enthusiastic writer share her tenderly crafted words with hand-selected audiences of one, another thing entirely to write with others and read aloud whatever she happened to write.
But after two years of regular in-class writing I had let go of any expectations of this writer. Instead I allowed her free rein to write as she wished. Granted, there were occasions when I thought she had no talent at all, but more and more I found myself happily surprised by what she had to say and how she chose to say it.
Now I’m great friends with the writer inside. I’m so much better at listening to her and trusting her instincts. And oftentimes I’m the one who asks if she’d like to sit down and do some writing.
As a result I now have a number of writing projects on the go. There are a few short stories at various stages of writing; a novel, the idea for which first surfaced about six years ago; and a travelogue of our slow travel experiences.
I’ve decided to go down the self-publishing route and will be writing more about my experiences of the process in future posts. Suffice to say, it’s been an interesting learning curve.
I thought the above photograph of the mini castle was a perfect accompaniment to this post as it looks like a lovely place from which to write!
Mufidah Kassalias is a writer, photographer and slow traveller. A digital nomad, she’s also co-founder of Creative Thunder, helping creative individuals and small businesses to fire up their online presence and prowess. To get a free copy of the inspiring Creative Thunder Manifesto, click here