Sometimes when I come to lilyboat.me, I wish I were entering to a physical place. A real place where I can actually turn the doorknob and step inside. I imagine all kinds of things that I might find in there. Colorful layers of curtains will be hanging over the windows. There will be artworks that I cherish all over the walls. Lots of books on the shelves, and a comfy couch in the corner while the warm candle light is burning. A simple, wooden cross right across from the entrance door so it would be the first thing anyone that steps into the space will notice. I would have a writing desk by the window, and maybe a daybed in the back of the room with lots of cushions, and a quilt blanket on it. And I want it to be a little English cottage in the country for my love of all things Jane Austen.
But instead I sit here in the dining table. I come here every morning and type out some words. There are no warm curtains, just cold white blinds. I see open snacks my nieces left on the table the night before, and my nephew’s homework material from his elementary school is carelessly placed near the open bag of Cheetos. All these things make me smile. Though I always wish for somewhere else, somewhere like a small country cottage in winter time with a fireplace burning, I am happy here. This is my place for now, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
This is a good place where I am at; closing down the gallery, free from the burden and stress. I am quickly back on my path as soon as I drifted away. I am here, where I always belonged, quietly whispering my little stories, and sharing my life. This is the one thing I never quit.
I was writing as long as I can remember. I never stopped writing. There were days when I was getting paid for writing. But there were a lot more days that I wasn’t getting paid. I purely did this for passion. For survival, and for joy. For healing, and for the need for communication. Writing nurtured me. This, I never gave up. I knew I had a DNA for writing. It was as natural to me as breathing. Sometimes more natural than breathing.
The writing path is a long one. I know success finds some writers early. All writers dream of having a nice writing cottage, renting a villa in Tuscany somewhere for the entire Fall and Winter season and come back home with a brand new book. Teaching writing courses to aspiring young writers. Book signing tours, and speeches and talks, being invited by a book club, or even an interview, maybe by Oprah!! But all those glamour and glory is another fairytale book we write in our heads. The reality of the writer’s life is not quite like what any writers would want to imagine. It’s a horror, sometimes.
It will be extremely hard to carry on your dream of becoming a writer until you discover the true joy of being a writer. And the joy only follows once you have learned to detach yourself from the success as a writer in a worldly sense. You must be detached from the words. You must be free from the stories you tell. You must occupy the stories, not the other way around.
The author Karen Blixen said ‘All sorrows can be bourn if you put them into a story or tell a story about them.’ Dr. Stephen Grosz, a psychoanalyst, delves even deeper and explains what happens when you fail to put the sorrows into a story in his book The Examined Life. He says, “Experience has taught me that our childhoods leave in us stories like this – stories we never found a way to voice, because no one helped us to find the words. When we cannot find a way of telling our story, we develop symptoms, or we find ourselves acting in ways we don’t understand.
Until you find that voice, your writing path is bound to be messy. The homeless stories float around, like castaways, unable to find its place to settle down and grow. It seems no regions in your mind is capable of offering an asylum for the stories, and the process of lingering, exploring, and path-finding is so draggingly long. Eventually it will be between you, stories, and time on the solitary battle field. You fight against time, doing what you can to survive the time given to you. The stories you carry will be on your side, but they won’t do much else other than entertaining, consoling yourself, or giving birth to your sorrows. It is not uncommon to witness many writers taking the side track; they start a business, they get a job, or go to graduate school, and move onto the academic path.
Every morning, I feel the call of the narrow path I am on. I am pulled by a force that I cannot resist. I cannot help but get up, leave my bed, to write some words. Any words. I come to this dining table and start typing. The daily mess is all around me; empty snack bags, half empty water bottle, plate, books, a bowl of nuts, and napkins. But all these are part of the my stories.
How did I end up here?
Every morning I ask myself when I sit down to write. Somehow I have ended up in a place that I have never planned to be, in a community setting that I’ve never thought was possible for me to live in, in this busy mess of daily mundane lives. But I am happy here and I wouldn’t change a thing about my writing life.
How did I get here?
I ask again on this first morning of the 33rd year of my life.
I know how. I got here one word at a time. And looking back, I see how every word was a surprise. Even the bad words were like a hidden ace being revealed at the end. It is very clear from this view that I needed both the good words, and bad words to write this story, and make it my own.
And I look forward to the many, many words that I will be writing from here until my last word on earth.