my writing journey competition

my writing journey competition

The Power of Perseverance: My Writing Journey

1. Overcoming Obstacles

When I first started writing, coming up with the ideas was the easiest part. I would be inspired by something I saw or read about and come up with grand plans of the novels I would write. Even now, I struggle with the transition from the grand vision in my head to a book form that can be read by others, but in those early days, I didn’t think about beginning. I wasn’t concerned with how I would get from inspired idea to finished product. Because of that, I would quit as soon as the writing became hard. I wouldn’t know how to put the great idea in my head into words, or wouldn’t think I was doing it justice. I started and stopped countless novels this way, with the unfinished pages taunting me from the far more numerous today I put into the early chapters. The knowledge that perseverance is key to completing a project is something that has come with time and experience. I don’t see my writing as a hobby anymore. It’s more than just something I do in my spare time to entertain myself. I have a burning desire to take the ideas in my head and make them into something real, something that can be shared with others. This is what has driven me to continue my latest project, even in the face of those aforementioned harsh realities and the numerous obstacles I have encountered along the way. And it’s certainly been a reason why my latest project has been my most successful one, completing a manuscript despite the numerous times I could have quit.

2. Discovering My Voice

The process of discovery continued through my university years, at the University of Guelph, where I took my first creative writing class from Betsy Struthers, a noted Canadian poet. In the quiet atmosphere of that small class, for the first time, we began to read our poems aloud. Betsy’s poetry was careful, precise and formal. Most of my classmates were writing sensitive, confessional verse. I, out of a perverse alienation, was still writing Ginsberg imitations; these now sounded unlike any other student’s work in the class. I could feel Betsy’s disapproval – but, and this was fundamental, she disapproved of the work and not the poet. At the time, I didn’t regard myself as a poet at all; I was a socially crippled misfit who could, from time to time, write something. But I began to see that if I wrote according to my own clumsy genius, I could elicit constructive criticism which would help me to refine it. This new understanding was a revelation, but the voice I had discovered was still far from creative autonomy. In the middle of a playwriting unit in my dramatic criticism class, I got my brain kicked halfway out of my head in a mugging and subsequent internal bleeding episode. When I came to my senses in the hospital, one of my first coherent thoughts was that I had missed the deadline on a major dramatic criticism assignment, and that this was why I was a failure at playwriting. This was a clear reversion to my tragic flaw theory of life, but even the poet in me couldn’t make this a tragic farce which could be borne. I was writing a script and the marginal story of medieval scholars who had attempted to turn lead into gold and died in an explosion came to mind. These scholars had potential; they had made a mistake in separating the theory and practice of alchemy. I saw an analogy. If it was so that the act of writing was a transmutation of ideas or feelings into language, then a writer had to be both the scholar and the alchemist and I was one of these scholars, a failure because I had always tried to skip craft straight to some gross product.

3. Honing My Craft

By the end of year 10, I had improved my writing and was becoming genuinely interested in the art of writing. I chose all my year 11 subjects based on my love for reading, writing, and the English language. I chose to do English, English extension, Modern History, Ancient History, and Legal Studies. While Modern History, Ancient History, and Legal Studies were not directly related to writing, I feel as though these subjects actually helped me to become a better writer. The testing was rigorous and there was an abundance of essay and report writing. This helped me to learn how to write effectively under time constraints and how to write a good piece on the first draft.

Once I realised I wanted to pursue an occupation in writing, I knew I had to polish my skills in order to achieve my goals. I began to read widely and take on a variety of writing tasks. It was during this period that I became aware of my enjoyment of writing non-fiction and informative essays. I enjoyed researching my topics and finding interesting ways to present information. I also began to enjoy writing short stories, which was something I had never previously had an interest in. However, I found most of my efforts were forced and lacked depth. This changed when I began to write purely for my own interest and enjoyment as opposed to writing something because I had to.

4. Embracing Feedback and Growth

From that day forward, I sought criticism beyond the obligatory comments on term papers. However, it was a new teacher who finally convinced me to shed my aversion to utilizing college writing resources. She was an excellent critic, highly perceptive and never sparing with appraisal or advice. I had always enjoyed peer editing and often requested harsher feedback, but was too proud to admit that my classmates sometimes made better editors than I.

In fifteen minutes that day, my professor accomplished what years of teachers and peers had not: he made me care. He began with warm praise for the “level of honesty” in my work and gently slipped in his differing opinion on an interpretive point. Then he dropped the bomb that turned my world upside down; when I asked why I’d received a B on the paper he told me it was because it wasn’t my best work. A blatant analysis of my potential was precisely what I needed and exactly the thing I had previously always taken offense to. His breakdown of my work and explicit instruction to “go further” showed me exactly what I had been missing- the revelation of how much better writing can become through continual revision and rethinking.

It has taken me years to overcome my fear of criticism; without a person or event to push me, I would probably still be clinging to the safe, the shallow, and the unsatisfying. My favorite and most influential writing professor was the first to open my eyes to the value of feedback. I had been in his class for awhile, churning out decent but perfunctory work, when I unexpectedly drew blood on a personal narrative. Upon returning the graded draft he asked me to stay after class to discuss the paper with him, an exchange which drastically altered my outlook on writing and the writing process.

For a long time, being told that “you have potential” was my least favorite backhanded compliment. It seemed that no matter how much work I put into my writing, it was never good enough. I became so wrapped up in impressing people and proving my worth that I forgot to write for myself. I was stuck in protective mode, so afraid of criticism that I couldn’t bring myself to invest in any one topic. When I finally began to write about something I was passionate about, I was paralyzed by self-doubt. The nagging worry that “if my best isn’t good enough, what does that say about me?” would not leave the back of my mind.

5. Celebrating Successes

Three years ago, it was for the first time that I decided to reveal my love for writing to my parents. They felt I should have chosen some commerce field, but on my insistence, they allowed me to go for it, and it was the beginning of my writing career. I started with writing articles on different topics. I used to publish them on different websites. On receiving a good response, I decided to write a book. But destiny had something else stored in for me. A few weeks later, I met with an accident and had a multiple fracture, bed resting for almost 3 months. I was feeling extremely bored with nothing to do. Then the idea struck to write a book on my computer. I bought a new computer and started my work. It took me around 8 months to complete my book. I gave it for publishing, but the tables turned. I was not getting a good publishing company. This totally shattered my confidence. I did not lose hope and started writing short stories. I published a few of them which were appreciated much. This elevated my morale, and I decided to give a last attempt to my book, and this time, it turned out to be a moment of joy for me. I got a mail for my book to be sent via courier, and to my amazement, it was a publishing company asking for my book. This was a big surprise for me, but I had finally achieved what I wanted. Today, I sit back and think of those days, and I feel proud that I never gave up. I am now a happy-go-lucky person with my 2nd book ready to hit the stands. Now life’s totally changed, and it’s my perseverance that has given me so much happiness and confidence. Written words are a powerful thing, and I hope that my story would change someone’s life. Always remember, failure is the stepping stone to success.

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