As a little girl, I knew in my heart of hearts that I wanted to become an author when I grew up. I don’t know how it came to be, but I just felt it was what I was destined to do.
I wrote my first story at the age of 4: a couple of sentences about a cat and a dog who were friends- with the limited lexicon of a four year old, of course.
My teacher at the time, Ms. Sue, gifted me a collection of fairy tales to encourage me. I still have that book and will probably read to my kids from it.
I wanted to write so badly that I was never without a pen and some form of paper. I was never the popular kid in school so I wrote and read to fill in the lack of friends.
I was so invested in my childhood dream to the point that whenever I wrote short stories, I had them binded and circulated them among family, classmates, and teachers.
More than anything, I wanted to publish my work.
At the same time, there had been a Lebanese boy , Randy Nahle, who became the youngest author of detective series. I desperately wanted to be like him or to break his record.
I believed I was good, I was constantly being told that. But at that time, the market for English authors, let alone teenage English authors, in Lebanon was so tiny. I was constantly being told that I wouldn’t be able to do it and publish.
And slowly, I started to cave in.
But I didn’t stop writing, I switched to poetry- which seemed like a much better and faster way to take out my teenage angst. From the ages of 13 until I graduated from school, I was writing poetry at every instant I could get.
I wrote about love, heartbreak, being a teenager, not knowing what I wanted in life, current affairs, my hopes, and my aspirations.
I wrote in the morning, I wrote at night, I wrote to avoid doing homework, and I especially got inspired to write during math class at school. I got in a lot of trouble with my teachers over that but I never stopped.
I published some online and got some feedback from people I had never met and would probably not, but the majority I kept to myself.
Then, everything changed when I started college. Again, I never stopped writing, but I stopped writing for my own pleasure. The dreams of becoming a published author faded away as I focused on my scientific courses.
The fact that I chose to be pursue a scientific career shocked a lot of people who directly assumed that I wanted to study Literature. But I think that it shouldn’t have come out as such a shock when those very people were telling me there was no money to be made in literature.
So, I never stopped writing, but I switched disciplines- I went into journalism by writing for the university newspaper. To say that it’s the happiest I’ve ever been wouldn’t fully describe how I felt. I finally felt like my voice was being heard and that I had a home. I’d spend hours thinking, and writing, and editing- and celebrate whenever the issue came out. It’s still a part of me to this day and even when I worked at a real magazine later on, it didn’t feel the same way.
Then there was the Creative Writing minor. To understand how much of a difference it made, I’ll tell you a story. Not so long ago, I ran into my old professor who remembered me despite the time that had passed. She asked me if I had been writing and I said no because work had taken over my life and she gave me a look that was a mix of disappointment and wistfulness, before she told me that I had been good and that I shouldn’t stop.
This was months ago and yet I remember her words everyday. Unfortunately though, I am failing at applying it. I’ve had brilliant ideas to write stories but nothing’s materialized. I blame my master’s thesis for destroying my creativity.
I’ve read sources on how to stop writer’s block and how to work on a novel- but my self doubt has overcome. I’ll tell you this, self-doubt is the worst thing to have your arsenal, because every time you write a sentence or a line of dialogue, this inner voice creeps up on you and causes you to hit backspace, erasing all your work, and making you rethink the whole direction of what you are doing.
I think right now I’m suffering from a case of wanting something too badly: I want to write, I want to revive those childhood dreams of publishing and making my family proud (especially because they’ve endured long, long hours of me telling them my ideas- and they also bought me all those notebooks) but it’s just not happening because I don’t think I’m good enough anymore.
Sorry, four year old me, I’m letting you down. I can only hope one day I find it in me to finish that novel.