(Inspired by my own writing prompt I posted on Twitter, et al, today)
This past decade has been quite the journey for me as an
unemployed worker graduate student historian admin assistant temp gas station attendant substitute teacher and eternal job seeker.
It was only in the past year that I really set aside time to dedicate to writing.
What surprised me was how quiet the process was. I’m used to living in a state of chaos. Neither one thing or another. Always fiercely banging against things, trying to prove I could fit in. “Notice me!” my efforts would scream. “I’m a hard worker.” Trying to conform to hold down jobs I hated.
I was a real-life Don Quixote, tilting at society’s windmills.
I wouldn’t say I was clueless about who I was–I just had to ignore it. Hide it away. Because it wasn’t relevant, hireable, marketable, socially acceptable, important, and, therefore, had zero worth to the world. Or so I had been taught to believe, from a very young age.
Like I said, the process of writing is quiet. The development of a writer, or any artist/creative soul, cannot be forced. It has to grow on its own. It was hard to let go. To relax. But then I had expended years of energy and had nothing to show for it.
I had to push my way up from the morass to figure out what kind of writer I wanted to be. I shed growth when it no longer fit. Dropping leaves that had been grafted onto me. (The drive for money being one of them–proof positive I wasn’t a failure.) It was scary to let go. It still is.
I suddenly realized, though, that if I was going to do it, I couldn’t do it inauthentically. Writing is demanding; it won’t let you be what you’re not. You can’t grow against the grain. At the same time, you have to write to write. Write where the topic (and submission guidelines!) takes you.
I stopped trying to be all things. One of the lessons passed down in workshops, articles, blogs was “find your niche.”
This was probably the hardest. I’d never been allowed; subsequently, never allowed myself, to have a niche based on my actual self.
“Who am I,” I asked myself.
The winds started howling from deep within. I shivered a deep bone chill when I realized I had no idea. I had had my existence wiped. I had been reprogrammed.
So, I had to dig deep. Dig through a frightening past, risk getting lost in nebulous dimensions, all to excavate a handful of fractured remembrances.
It’s still going on. Slowly. Quietly. And my self is still fractured. But I’m rebuilding. Even if people still want to classify me by their negative terms.
But here’s some discoveries.
A sensitive soul.
A creative mind.
Someone who played the violin.
Who likes classical music. Atmospheric music, without words.
Drawn to what’s now classified as speculative: horror, fantasy, science fiction.
I write these things.
A world of make-believe.
The impossibly possible.
So, if you made it this far, what does that have to do with the title of the blog, “Nature’s Army”?
Because I also love nature. Trees. Plants. Insects.
And that’s the stuff of
Working its tangled way into my stories.
Building a fictive world where nature has agency.
Where nature wins.
[See my 66-word story (and others!) in Speculative 66’s Issue 20, on April 6th. https://speculative66.weebly.com/ ]
Now it’s your turn to “tilt at windmills”. How has writing/creative ventures helped you develop your sense of self?