I’ve just returned from the Brisbane Writers Festival where I was asked to read some of my work at the Queensland Writers Centre Whispers salon, and, let’s be honest, I might be on a bit of a high.
Being up there, finally able to share with a real audience some of my own work was such a fantastic experience. It was daunting, yes, and I may have needed 3 trips to the bathroom beforehand, and there may have been some positive self-talk mumbled under my breath to the tune of I think I can I think I can, but once I was up there…It felt like I was doing what I should be doing. More than I ever feel at my work as a nurse, even on my best days where I know that to that one person, I am making a difference. This was different. It felt right.
My parents, husband and friend were cheering me on in the benches, and people afterwards I had never met before were very gracious in saying how much they enjoyed the reading, and one lovely lady even said she’d buy my book. I felt a thrill I’d never felt before. A tiny, tiny spark. A dangerous, maybe I can do this in the back of my mind.
It started me thinking about why I became a nurse in the first place instead of just plugging away at ‘the writing thing’. I got it into my head at a very young age that writing was what I wanted to do, but that I couldn’t very well just go and be a writer, that I needed a back-up plan of some description. Adults praised me for my sensible life choices, and I patted myself on the back and consoled myself with the “I’ll write in my free time!” argument, and “I’m still young, there’s plenty of time for books later on.” I was subscribing to the “specious notion” that R. Buckminster Fuller spent his life fighting. And I don’t know why. If I could, I’d go back to 17-year-old me and slap some sense into myself.
So I ended up doing nursing, because I care about people and wanted to help. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy nursing, and it is a privilege to care for others and help them through the times when they’ve never been more vulnerable, and I think I’m pretty good at my job. But in my heart, it’s not what I’m meant for. I’ve come to believe that I was built for something else. There’s no other explanation for the jealousy I feel when a facebook friend talks about the editing she’s doing on her new book, or when I hear of some other person winning a manuscript competition I didn’t even enter. What am I so afraid of?
Why don’t we get out there and write? There are freelancing positions and job opportunities and competitions galore to enter and enter and enter until you win. There are readings you can do, poetry slam nights, and even blogs you can start. This is a call to arms. Get out there and do what you were meant to do. Don’t put it off another day, year, or even for one more second. Get to your computers or your typewriters or your looseleaf sheets and WRITE. Write like you mean it. Write as though if you weren’t writing you’d die, because let me tell you something. That little voice? That little spark inside you, with the dangerous maybe I can whispering to you at night, that’s your soul crying out to you to do the thing you were made for. Don’t cover it up, don’t push it aside.
Take a moment. Take a breath.
It’s telling you something so important; something so vital to your happiness as a human.
It’s telling you the truth.
Can you imagine what would happen if you listened?
To get you started, here are some competition links, as well as some great resources for writers.