Saturday, February 16, 2008

Where I find inspiration

Sometimes, when I'm stuck and the words don't flow, I review the journey that brought me here for inspiration.

Not knowing anything about writing, least of all publication and querying, I introduced myself to an editor of a print woman's magazine in 1997 with a proposal for a decorating column. Two months later in February 1998, the first piece of my nine-year monthly column assignment appeared. Literally, I had stumbled unto the rebirth of my childhood dream to be a writer and it took the pursuit of a love for interior design to take me along that writing path, my writing path.

And it is mine, after all.

You see, looking back, I can see, clearly, how all my life, I was being prepared for this, for writing.

1. It began with my mother's appetite for reading, which I adopted. Authors' photos on their books intrigued me and I envisioned my photograph on a book too, a book that I imagined I would write. She was a dreamer too but it didn't translate to me. My father showed no emotion with respect to her dreams. And my brother and I were too young to understand it all. I realized later in life that that was where I got my penchant for dreaming, making lists and living with an eye toward the future.

Apart from that, I had no model of what to do with my recurring thoughts of being a writer. I didn't even know that it was a dream that could be pursued. But I wrote, all through my life. I feared confrontation; my mother was a hopeless nag. So I wrote letters of apology, love letters, diary entries and later in life when I discovered the wonderful freeing world of journaling, I adopted the practice as my main avenue to write and understand the thoughts in my head, the feelings in my heart and the growing desire for a life that revolved around words, books and writing.

2. Another thing I remember is how much of a loner I was. To this day, I enjoy, crave and seek out solitude and silence. It stands head and shoulders with writing as my deepest passions. I accept that it is strange to my family and friends so I no longer make excuses. They just leave me to my devices and that works for me.

This love affair with solitude and silence was the precursor and indicator of the career that I dreamer of and eventually pursued. They fit me, I feel at home with them, almost at one with the three. It is in that place where I am alone and silent that my heart sings and words flow.

3. My life experiences and the stories I've heard and read make me at home with the topics I write about. I've tried to write about other topics but the words don't come easily.

I'm much more comfortable writing about what I am passionate about: self-improvement, inspiration, motivation, setting goals, self-care, gratitude, working at what we love, finding one's passion, pursuing dreams, finding balance, making changes, starting over, living simply, being true to oneself, finding joy in simple things and simple practices, interior design from a more philosophical perspective such as creating personal space, designing for one's lifestyle, those sort of things. Sometimes I wonder if my scope is too limited but look at the list – it's pretty broad and encompassing. Don't you think? There is so much more to write about under each item I've listed. I call them lifestyle topics because they encompass my mantra about creating a lifestyle that allows us to be creative, open, free, grateful, compassionate, inspired and passionate.

4. For as long as I can remember, I've been enthralled with words and their history. I go to the dictionary to look up one word only to find myself in the throes of researching a long list of others. One thing leads to another; one word leads to another. I think no one can enjoy doing this and not have a gift or love of playing with words. I do.

5. Then there was my habit of daydreaming of owning a bookstore or working in one or in a library. It never happened but I never miss an opportunity to linger anywhere where there are stacks of books. What joy! All those books, authors, pages, words, stories. There is nothing more exciting or soothing except writing, of course.

I believe that God destined me for this, to be a writer. I could not possibly have had the experiences I did, the dreams I've had, the passions I've felt, the quirks and idiosyncrasies I live with and this passion for writing without His design and leading.

That is why whenever, the mild bouts of depression and periods of dissatisfaction with where I am in my writing career surface, I don't stay there long. There is no need to. God has brought me this far and by His grace I will keep going, doing what He has prepared and equipped me to do – write the words that help and heal, encourage and inspire others.

When I labour over a piece of work I try to follow the rules of good writing. But more so, I keep in mind that I have an obligation to the people who read my work. I have to keep on topic and keep it real. My voice must be clear, my heart bare and my words true. They must be sure that I write for them when I open my heart and share myself, my flaws, my weaknesses, my strengths, my triumphs and my dreams.

People have asked me when I'm going to write a book. I want to. I am working on a few ideas, taking it slowly, in stride, a page or two or several at a time. They are not a high priority but are progressing at a leisurely rhythm. For now, I'm simply doing the work. The rest is in God's hands. I am convinced that if book publication is in His plan for me, He'll show me, He'll make it clear, He'll lead the way and it will happen. In the mean time, I savor every silent and solitary moment I have to write and enjoy the process.

More than anything else I take time to count my blessings, make use of the lessons I've learned and say thanks for the wonderful life I have, filled with people I love and a career that allows me to write the whispers of my heart.

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