Growing up, I was a lonely kid. Both my parents had 9 to 5 jobs, and there were long stretches of the day where I used to be by myself. I had a terrible temper, which served to distract others from my extremely sensitive personality, but it also drove people away, leaving me quite alone. I passed my time by reading a lot of story books, involving myself in extra-curriculars , and immersing myself in the world of manga and anime. I used to be a very at-home kind of kid, who preferred staying in, but at the same time wished to have friends to go on adventures with.
No adventures in real life? No problem, as long as you have a hyperactive imagination!
I started writing when I was eleven or twelve, as a way to chronicle my adventures in my make-believe fantasy land, where I had superpowers and things actually happened the way I wanted them to. I had friends who I could speak anything to, and the guy I’d have a crush on would get a few key dialogues in the great drama that I would enact out in my head. The stories became more and more elaborate, until I finally decided to put them down on paper.
I started off being pretty bad, but thinking I was really good. I continued to remain bad, until my mother gave me a reality check. I finally confronted my own style of writing – which, at that point, was over-the-top, meandering and employed words which had no place in a regular person’s vocabulary. I cut down on the extra words, reduced the size of my paragraphs, figured out what the hell I was actually trying to say, and just said it.
I honestly used to be a lot better at writing. The words would flow out of my mind and onto the paper with such ease, it’s surreal for me to think about now. There would be layers before my eyes – furthest away from me would be the physical paper. Just above that, the words would come together and waltz around in my mental vision. And furthest away from the paper, the scene I was writing about would be unfolding, in my mind’s eye. The whole process used to happen as smoothly as breathing. Of course, there would be writer’s blocks from time to time. But I’d get through them, in time, and go right back to writing again.
I can’t remember the last time I wrote a poem or a piece of fiction. Fiction is best written when there is peace and calm in the world outside. I need lots of mind space just to live the life of the characters I wanted to write about. But when there’s so much happening in my own life on a daily basis, it becomes hard to give much time or energy to living an alternate life.
Then came the longest writer’s block I’ve ever faced, in the form of my dreams for my career. When I wasn’t working, I was studying. When I wasn’t studying, I was sleeping. I didn’t touch story books for the longest time, nor did I take pen to paper. I didn’t write any fiction – whatever I wrote were my own thoughts, not very unlike what I’m doing here.
Now? My writing is quite garbage, to be honest. I’ll make no bones of the fact that it has quite a bit of catching up to do to be how it used to be. It’s not as pleasing as before, nor does it come as naturally as it used to. With previous standards being so high, I have a lot to live up to, for my own sake.
But, even as I write this, I’m realising that I’ve got to start somewhere. Even though I’m not all the way down at rock bottom, I’ve still got quite a bit of distance to climb. And once you start climbing, there’s nowhere to go but up.
I’ve got a long way to go before I can write my stories and novels again. But, with every piece I write, I’ll get closer to the day when I can write freely, not just as good as before, but even better than how I was.
If you’re out of touch with something that you really loved doing, because of what life had in store for you, there’s no better time to start than now. You’re probably going to be shit at it the first couple of attempts. And that’s okay. Even if you’re not as good as you used to be with the first ten, fifteen, twenty attempts, it’s okay.
All that matters is that you’ve started walking on that road again. And eventually, you’ll cross even the milestone you had set up at what you’d thought was the end of the road, and continue walking ahead.