If someone were to stop me in the street and ask me to tell them a story, I wouldn’t have a clue where to start, but sit me in front of a computer and leave me alone and the words just flow. Something inside me unlocks.
The journey of becoming a writer is different for everyone. Some will know that they are destined to be writers from the beginning and will follow that path until they get there somehow, while others, like me, will stumble upon it quite by accident. There is no given track that a person must follow, in order to get into writing, because what works for one person may not necessarily work for the next. One commonality however, is sheer hard work.
After many years of trying countless new things, and hoping that one day I would stumble upon the one thing that would lead me to a better future, a future that would finally make me happy, leaving me feeling fulfilled, I finally found what I was looking for. I learned that I did have a talent buried deep within me, something that was so well hidden away, I had no idea I had it, until it burst to the surface. It was buried in a place even I struggled to find. I just needed to find the key. That key came in the strangest form, one which to this day, still leaves me wondering.
The key to unlocking everything that had lay dormant inside me for so long was a few simple words in the end. I had a conversation with my boss one day, when he passed the office, and I ran a couple of ideas by him for changes I wanted to make to the office. We had our conversation, which wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, and he finished by saying, “I want everything in here, out, so I can use it.” Pointing at his head.
At the time, I was focusing on my work and writing couldn’t have been further from my mind, but his words struck a chord. I thought no more about our conversation until a week later, when I borrowed my daughter’s laptop and went to start writing, at the bottom of the garden. His words echoed through me in a manner I wasn’t accustomed to. As they circled around and around in my mind, I began to think about what might really be up there, sitting around in my subconscious. As I stopped procrastinating and finally hit the keys, an idea of a scene came to mind for the opening chapter to Hidden. These words seemed to unlock something, and I was hit by a tidal wave of creativity, which flowed out of me. It was almost like I had been given permission to write. I recall saying aloud to myself, “he ought to be careful what he asks for – You never know what you will find up there.”
I am more grateful to my boss for these words than he will ever realise, because he unlocked a whole new future for me, without realising. I felt as I sat in front of the keyboard, with the strongest urge to start writing that at that very moment, I was in exactly the right place, at exactly the right time. I was meant to be a writer. All the dials had lined up and set me on a new course. This was the start of a brand new life for me and everything else that followed would be a contribution to that cause. I just had to survive the journey, oh, and learn to write.
You see, deciding to write for pleasure is one thing, but wanting to become a full time writer is another, and turning it into a reality, is quite a different ball game altogether. One of the problems I had always had, as a child was that I was a daydreamer. I don’t declare myself to be the smartest person on the planet, or anything particularly special, but I’m certainly not unintelligent by any means either. I didn’t do myself any favours however, when I allowed my creative brain to dominate, when I was a child.
The whole daydreaming thing has been a double edged sword for me throughout my life. You see, in order to write, you have to have great imagination, but having a great imagination tends to mean that you are at its mercy, because it tends to do its own thing. This is something that I have struggled with for years. I can recall many times, not only as a child, but as an adult as well, where my boss has asked me a question in the middle of a meeting and I’ve had no idea how to answer it, because boredom had crept in and taken over, leading me to drift off. To combat this, as an adult in a working environment, I had to learn to switch it off altogether. That’s probably why so much is bursting out of me now. I can’t even tell you where I go. It’s not like I even go off to some exotic place. When I’m back to concentrating, the daydream is instantly forgotten, like a real dream, but I have a feeling that none of it is really lost, because when I hit my keyboard, all manner of untold words stream across my page. A similar thing happens when I write. I have no idea where I go to do it, but I have to admit that it’s my favourite place. If someone were to stop me in the street and ask me to tell them a story, I wouldn’t have a clue where to start, but sit me in front of a computer and leave me alone and the words just flow. Something inside me unlocks.
When I first discovered I could do this, I felt a bit like Spiderman. I wanted to wear my new toy out. I wanted to see where the boundaries lay. To date, I still haven’t found them. Who knows what is possible? I keep trying new aspects of writing and so far, I’ve been able to do them, without any of it posing a challenge. I’ve always written from a business sense, so letters, emails, memos and all associated with formal and informal writing, has always been a natural thing for me, because it’s what I’ve always done to earn my bread and butter. Even in recent years, I’ve had to start writing reports for management and these have taken many forms. Lots of research has been done, in order to write the report in the first place, but I don’t love this. I merely do it because it is part of a process.
Recently, I found that I had to teach myself marketing. This has been a steep learning curve for me, because I’ve never been exposed to this kind of writing before. I mainly use blogging as a tool. By varying the length of the blog, I can pitch whatever it is that I am trying to convey to my followers, in a manner that is suitable to what I am promoting. I find it intriguing and feel that I have far from mastered this form yet, but I’m enjoying finding out how it works and love practicing new techniques. Blogs like this one feel more like a diary to me. They’re not a diary or journal, they are a means of telling you a little about Serina Hartwell and where she came from. I never anticipated these being as enjoyable as they have been. I thought that writing about myself would be the most boring thing in the world and might put people to sleep, but I’ve found that people have enjoyed these blogs the most. It surprising to me, because I consider myself ordinary and of no particular interest. It does act as a huge compliment when I receive positive feedback. One that I appreciate much more than I could ever convey.
My real love is writing from a creative stand point and by that, I mean both writing novels and poetry. I remember sitting in class in middle school and studying poetry. I recall looking around the class and watching my classmates struggle to write it, while I couldn’t wait to get on with it. I was always reasonable at writing them, but never considered the form before. The thing that appealed to me most was the challenge of writing a story, or conveying a set of emotions without using more than a handful of words. I always loved words and enjoyed finding out alternative words. Ironic when you consider that my biggest downfall has always been learning new languages. A gremlin that one day I hope to put to bed, but for now, one challenge at a time please.
I remember a fleeting thought that I could write poetry and then dismissing it as something that other people did, who was I to try? My mother’s voice interrupted, asking me how I would make any money at it. I always considered writing books and poems to be something that I wasn’t entitled to do. When I reflect upon this now, I think a lot of it was about my situation. I wasn’t particularly academically minded at the time, although this was something that I came to regret, because there was no reason why I couldn’t have become an academic, if I had only tried harder, I just always felt it wasn’t my place to think like that. I have to admit that it has taken an awful lot of rebelling and growing up to realise that the old, outdated ideas of others that surrounded me at the time, were merely holding me back. The view of the non-risk takers won at the time. That coupled with the fact that I didn’t put the effort in that I could have done, served as a self-fulfilling prophesy. It has taken many years and Hindsight to realise this and appreciate it. Only by taking a step back and doing lots of reflection, have I realised where I went wrong all those years ago and been able to start putting things right.
Today when I sit down and start typing out a new poem or chapter, I feel a sense of relief wash over me. A security in what I am doing and a sure indicator that I am finally on the right path. It’s like the rest of me has been waiting for the bit that can actually do the things that will make a difference in my life, to catch up. Now I’ve finally unlocked it, I can finally get on with the one thing I that I am supposed to be doing with my life. The thing that I have ironically, been looking at from the start. Like a new toy, I do intend to wear it out. I will always write, this is something that I instinctively know and I can’t wait to see where it will take me. What an adventure?
The next time you’re feeling negative about yourself and your place in life, or someone is putting you down, draw upon the inspiration I’m trying to share with you here. If you are good at something, but don’t try then you are right, you are never going to become whatever it is that you have found. You will not walk straight into a new profession or skill set either, because no one is good at what they do in the beginning, but stay realistic, keep hold of that idea and look at way that you can make it work. Perfect your trade, learn your skills and become the best through practice and hard work and never give up, even when times are hard. One final thing – Don’t put it off until tomorrow. Get right to it and begin your journey today. You’ll never look back.
Serina Hartwell – Author of The Hidden Saga
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