Many years ago I was sitting in a doctor’s waiting room waiting on my mum who had an appointment to have her eyes checked. There was an older gentleman there, a retired teacher, who struck up a conversation with me. He asked where I was from and I told him. From there he asked what it was I did in East Dalhousie. I replied that I was a writer. He admitted to me that he’d always wanted to write, that his stories were “up here,” he said, tapping his forehead. I encouraged him to take the plunge and start writing his stories out. What did he have to lose?
“Don’t die with your music still inside you. Listen to your intuitive inner voice and find what passion stirs your soul. When you do this, you’re also tapping into another face of intention: love.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer
I love this quote. Whenever I read it, it reminds me of why I started writing in the first place. It wasn’t to prove I could do it or to rack up a bunch of publishing credits that I could wave like a victory flag. I started writing as a matter of survival, that little voice that one day reminded me of how important writing had been to me in my younger years. Back then I didn’t care about publication, I only cared about writing a story and expressing whatever it was inside me what needed to be said. Growing up as a middle child sometimes left me feeling stifled. It was difficult for me to communicate my feelings verbally. I was often shushed. But the written word offered me a safe place to fall, a way to communicate without making too much noise. Plus it felt right.
My mother bought me a diary when I was nine. I hadn’t a clue what to write and I’m sure I didn’t update it with any regularity. I was young, words hadn’t yet found their way to me in the way they do a writer today. That would come a bit later. Yet, I was the only one in family who ever had a diary. Perhaps my mother saw something, or sensed something in me even then. I’ll admit I did love to write stories. I wrote plays in elementary school at an early age. My friends indulged me by playing along. We did it because it was fun. As the years went by, I discovered a great sense of contentment upon the page and writing stories felt so right, so natural, so good—like music to my soul. But what if I had resisted that urge to write? What if I had said, I don’t have anything important to say, I won’t be good enough, or People will only laugh at me?
I wonder sometimes how many of us ignore the nudges we receive for fear that we won’t be good enough. Good enough for what? How good do you have to be to write? All you need is an idea and some words. Now, being good enough to publish—that’s a little different. But we don’t all need to be THAT good. If writing fulfills some longing in you, if it brings you joy, that’s what counts. If in time you decide that your work is good enough to be published take it further. But nothing, nothing, should stand in the way of you writing if that’s what you want. I used to think that everyone who writes should do so for publication, that it would ultimately be the goal for anyone who writes. But I’ve since changed my mind about that. Writing can free us by allowing us to express the things that make us happy, angry or sad. Sometimes we don’t even know how we feel about a particular thing and can discover new truths about ourselves.
The people I write about might be fictitious but inside each and every one of them comes a sliver of truth, a small piece of someone I know, something I heard, everything I’ve every experienced either directly or indirectly.
Not everyone is a writer, but I’m willing to bet that most of us have something we do, some way of expressing ourselves. I’m sure there are people right now saying, “No, no, you don’t understand. I’m not creative in ANY way.” You know what I say to that? Fuddle-duddle. Maybe you don’t write or paint, but what about crafting, card-making, sewing, gardening, baking, or twiddling your thumbs? Maybe you’re the best thumb-twiddler on the planet. And if that’s so, that’s wonderful. But seriously, we all have something. Maybe you’re a good listener, someone who volunteers their time, someone who makes time for someone else who’s lonely or in despair. We all have/do something of value.
It doesn’t matter what your story is because maybe your story isn’t a story at all, but something you’ve been called to do yet you chose to ignore. Wayne Dyer said, “don’t die with your music still in you” which is really the same as saying don’t die with your story still in you. If, at the end of you life, you had to write an essay about yourself would you end it all by saying you followed your heart, your inner guidance, or would you end the story by saying there was more you would have liked to have done?
I sometimes wonder about that older gentleman in the doctor’s waiting room, if he finally got up the courage to write down all the stories he’d been keeping in his mind for years. I hope, I pray, he did not come to the end of his life still thinking of those stories he wanted to write, that he did not die with his story still in him.