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You Are Meant to: Thoughts on Writing

I am a fiction writer. While writing isn't easy, it gives me an enormous amount of meaning and self-fulfillment. I feel more at peace and purposeful whenever I have a writing project. I remember the child-me lying in bed in the mornings and feeling deeply happy at having woken with scraps of a story in my head.

Over the years, I've learned to do the different stages of writing a novel, each of which has its own demands and appealing aspects. There is brainstorming, then there is drafting, and rewriting, and revising; editing; polishing. All have their own challenges and pleasures. And all must take place for a finished novel.

I’ve queried agents many times, some of whom have requested full a manuscript, and have been rejected. My husband wonders why I spend so much time on something that has no guarantee of an income. It's because writing—like other mediums of storytelling—is a way of life. One is born to do it, and must do it to feel fulfilled, or one simply is not. And sometimes, despite the sense of meaning it delivers, true writers give up, too. And sometimes it takes a while for us writers to believe that we are meant to write. We might try convincing ourselves—often pressured by adopted attitudes and upbringing—that we aren't meant to.

I’m such a writer. Although I grew up scribbling stories, in my teens I became convinced I wasn’t good at it, that writing wasn’t a practical enough a profession, and shifted my interests elsewhere. I thought I was better in visual arts and dance, and that even if being a full-time fiction writer were practical I didn’t have what it took to be one. Not until in my mid-twenties did I actually begin believing that I could write a real, full-length novel (in English), and I set about to doing so.

It has taken me a long time to believe in myself—who I am as a writer, and what I might actually be able to accomplish. I had to unveil myself and see potential within me while being harassed by insecurities and perfectionism. I had to develop stubbornness in my convictions, a pig-headedness in following my intuition. On the road to becoming a professional author, failure and disappointment are guaranteed, as are heart-ache and rejection. Writing is a lonely and often tedious process, but it is nothing compared to the uncertainty whether your book will make it or not.

But it is all worth the process, isn't it? This pain and struggle we writers inflict on ourselves in our search for freedom and self-expression . . . It is the only way to improve--and, eventually, to succeed.

Persist. Learn. Polish. The only way is to write.

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