On pursuing passion.
I started writing novels at a very young age, finding a remarkable amount of solace in the power of creation. That’s not to say that the writing was good, or even passable, but it was practice. And in those early years passion was the sole driving force behind my imagination. It was far before I ever had an understanding of literary markets, agents, publication. I spent hours, days, bent over the keyboard, creating. There was never a doubt in my mind; I knew I was doing the right thing, the only thing that I was meant to do.
When I was young, I had every confidence in the world. Passion bolstered my self-esteem, even though I rarely shared my work with anyone. I felt important, special. During that point in my nascent writer’s life, the only thing I needed was my imagination. Passion never flagged.
But passion fades. Like any relationship, it changes. Between college and when my son was born, I lost track of passion. I began to tell myself that writing, especially speculative fiction, was too difficult a vocation to pursue. Instead of considering it my calling, I began to think of it as a hobby. In a way, I marginalized one of the most important aspects of my own personality. Throughout my childhood, writing literally saved me. but because it was a childhood dalliance, I think I forgot what value it had.
Really, it was the birth of my son that woke me up. I know it’s a little cliché, but it’s true. I was not being true to myself, and while I certainly had fun in graduate school it was not my calling. Emerging from postpartum depression and a difficult first year, I found my passion again. I began to read, to write, to escape during those moments of silence. I was busier than I had ever been in my entire life, and yet happy.
There is no recipe for finding passion. Some writers have the drive, others have to struggle every day. I am one of the lucky ones, though I have off days and sometimes off weeks, my passion for writing is something I carry around with me. It’s in the slant of light through the trees, the sound of water over rocks, the feeling of my son’s hair between my fingers. Not a single day passes I don’t think about writing, about adventuring in other worlds. For the average person this no doubt sounds rather strange, but for many of my writer friends this is simply the life we lead.
Passion is a gift. I think of that child I once was, giddy with the prospect of world building and character creation. While I lost my way for a while, she is now more a part of me than ever. I am not ashamed of the worlds I build or the words I write. I celebrate passion in the face of adversity, as this year has certainly taught me many lessons about persevering. I certainly don’t have it as hard as some, and I am thankful for what I do have. Sometimes, we’ve got to start with the small things.
When ever I feel my passion lacking, I have one simple trick. I pick up a book. It doesn’t even have to be a good book, but flipping through pages and following a story never ceases to remind me of why I write. I was so amazed by books as a child that I wanted nothing more than to make them myself.