do what you love, write your heart out

Sometimes I feel like a wannabe writer. In journals, I write letters to my future and old selves. I thank my old self for being brave. I plead my future self not to change, not to become prideful.

I think I’m a wannabe writer, but there’s a thing or two that I have learned about writing.

We are all writers.

It’s a beautiful thing to witness beginning writers grow. My students ask me, how do you spell this word? They ask me, what does effable mean?

(If you’re wondering, effable means able to be described in words.) As writers, we keep adding new words to our vocabulary.

Writers pay attention to sentence structure and word choice. Writers paint a picture when they compare two unlike things. Writers write with a purpose. Writers know good writing when they read it.

Writers read.

I love reading good writing. I hate finding good writing that tells sad stories though. I feel too much. Those stories become too much to bear.

I feel like a wannabe writer but sometimes I write things that I feel proud to share. Sometimes I write things that are too cliche. Too simple. Or ungrammatical.

When I read other people’s writing I see confidence, humor, dreaminess, retrospection.

We are all writers.

When you pick up your favorite pen or when you start typing on your computer, what is the first thing that you want to write about?

Do you dedicate your words to someone: God or a person long gone? Do you dedicate your words to the past or to the future?

It takes effort to write your story, any story. You write until there’s nothing left to say on the matter when you do what you love and write your heart out.

Telling Stories at a Bonfire without Any Companions

Photo by Amit Thakare from Pexels

The outcast, deep thinker, and storyteller, Thomas Builds-the-Fire, doesn’t stop sharing his stories even when no one listens to him and everyone rejects him in Sherman Alexie’s short story “This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona”.

He says:

“We are all given one thing by which our lives are measured, one determination. Mine are the stories which can change or not change the world. It doesn’t matter which stories as long as I continue to tell the stories.”

In addition to storytelling, Thomas has the gifts of seeing visions, receiving messages about the future, and knowing what people are thinking.

One of the problems with Thomas’s storytelling is that he’s been retelling the stories for so long that his community becomes tired of hearing them, but one begins to wonder: are people actually listening to them, taking in their messages?

At one point during the short story, Thomas asks his former friend, Victor, for a favor that seems really simple, but which will take a lot of effort and courage: Can Victor listen to just one of his stories in the future? This is hard to do considering that anyone who associates with Thomas is frowned upon.

In connection to my rookie short story writing skills, I’ve been writing stories because I felt inspired to write them, and, sometimes, I kind of feel like Thomas receiving his stories. I don’t hear a voice tell me the stories word for word, but the stories form without effort.

This is what it feels like to be a storyteller, to feel the call to write from within, to feel a spark of inspiration, to let stories form on their own terms.

Do you ever wonder about the impact your words have on the world? According to Thomas, writers must use their gifts to share stories even when no one seems to be listening. You may never know the full extent of the impact of your words. In the end, you show up to the task of writing, the only thing you’re fully in control of as the storyteller, as the writer.