Start Again — Nothing Can Stop You from Starting Over
I fell in love with writing the summer before my thirteenth birthday. It was a long summer — made longer by lack of plans. My family had cancelled an ad hoc trip after disagreements among adults; so I was left with nothing but time to myself.
You see, I was shy then. Unless hanging out with a handful of tight friends, I spoke with kids if they spoke to me first. Not many teens, self-conscious or outgoing, were interested in striking up a conversation with too skinny an awkward girl, mumbling shy, constantly looking at her shoes. My close friends were gone that summer. So, other than prodding from family members soon confronted with radio silence, I was left with my books.
I read and read to the point of delirium. One story bled into the next, until they became a string of stories. I read novels set during the French Revolution. Because I was too young for the full depth of conflict, I focused on French literature overlaid with love stories. That and the fact that reading about love at twelve was nothing short of captivating. I fell in love with French literature for a while.
When oversaturated by amour et conflict, I found Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. A book of descriptive violence I wanted to put down but couldn’t, at once enthralled and disturbed by the theme of love and sacrifice. Next, I ventured into Russian novels which can be depressing and oddly hopeful.
One night, I sat there with a book opened on my knees, staring without seeing the multitude of words on the page. Stunned at how the writer’s words made me feel love, fear, anger. All those raw emotions created by someone’s words.
What could be more powerful than words?
I held no notion writing of that caliber was easy. Satisfying but not easy. I imagined the writer had many tries before finally writing The End. That he had started again and again before settling on what was now in my hands. That he had help. I wondered if teachers helped him. If, when stuck, he went to his teachers to ask for guidance, like I went to mine when confused about a project. However he did it, he’d created magic.
I sat there thinking, there was nothing I wanted to do more than write.
So, I did. On an old notebook. Word after word, without making any sense, I wrote. When I filled up a page, I thought: these words arranged differently can create similar emotions. Like what I’d just read.
I started again and again, rearranging those words, telling my story. When the story didn’t even come close to making sense let alone provoking emotions, the seed of doubt was planted. Maybe those writers had been given a gift at birth. A gift not all of us received. Certainly not me.
Years later, I read one of those writers had worked on writing his book for years. That he had indeed started again and again. Many times over. At that point, my writing confidence had grown enough to understand that while writing may be a gift, like any such gift it would go nowhere without hard work and dedication.
So, start again. At whatever it is you love to do. It’s never too late if it’s something you love.
That is the true gift. And what a wonderful gift it is, given to us all, the opportunity to start all over again.