This is one of my famous attempts to prove to myself that I am a decent writer. I’m participating in the Writers Crushing Doubt contest hosted by Positive Writer. More details here: http://positivewriter.com/writing-contest-2016/
Welcome to my entry.
I was born in a tiny village in the southern part of India. As a girl, I was sleepless and restless; stories consumed me. I would wake up my mother in the middle of the night and ask for a story so I could go back to bed. I learnt of mythical gods and courageous farmers from her. But I wanted more. At 10, my imagination was so full-fledged that I began to write. I wrote about girls who had fights with their best friends, and about younger siblings that craved attention. At 13, I wrote poems in cursive. At 15, I hastily etched prose paragraphs into the folds of beautiful notebooks. I researched top schools for Journalism. I felt like I was meant to write.
So, imagine my surprise when I found myself in an undergraduate business university at 18. Journalism was not, according to my parents, a “good” profession. Business, on the other hand, was stable. I nodded and moved to Waltham, Massachusetts and learnt about all sorts of accounting principles. Here’s what I was yet to learn, though. Journalism or no journalism, writing, to me, was therapeutic. Without it, I was lonely. Being in a business school meant that I was spending time in the trading room and in the economics lab. Being away at college meant that I was testing my limits and getting used to never being alone. All of a sudden, I had no time to stop and jot down my thoughts.
“Besides”, I told myself, “it’s a business school! You don’t need writing to survive here”.
But, I did. I was just making excuses because writing, even though I was in a business school, would mean one or both of the following things:
- I could be at the wrong school, trying to break into the wrong profession.
- I needed to be extraordinarily good, if I was going to go out of my way to write.
It is amazing to me, now looking back, that I did not just put myself out of my misery, grab a pen and let it all flow. It was the doubt that told me I could not write anymore, because there is no way I was good enough for me to rise above my circumstances. I was not studying literature or journalism like I had wanted to, so there was no real point in writing. I did not want to break my own heart. I did not want to understand what writing truly meant to me.
There was a drunk night freshmen year that ended me exchanging poems with a friend. I read out a few lines I had written years ago and her eyes widened.
“You wrote that?”
“What are you doing in a business school?”
Ah. The dreaded question that I had been scared to ask myself. But I kept making her read more. It felt good to have an audience. It felt even better to hear words that were locked up inside of me, spewed out into the world. I do not claim that youthful drunkenness is the remedy to #crushingdoubt, but it might just be up there.
I sobered up and wrote more. I knew that I had received critical acclamation from my audience of one and frankly, it was the push I needed to get out of my head and into my writing. I was too focused on what my writing meant. I was too keen on the idea that if I was to go out of my way to write, I was going to have to be really good. But I don’t have to be anything other than the messy combinations of words and metaphors inside my head. My writing only has to mean something to me. It has to be good to me. An audience helps, no doubt. Critiques and re-writes are important. But what comes first, is putting that pen to the paper and writing.