Thursday, April 17, 2014

Living bravely and why I choose to write

Yesterday writing felt intoxicating and joyous. Today it feels terrifying. The artist's life. 
(A Facebook status I posted earlier this week) 
I am a living paradox. I hate change. I struggle with uncertainty. Yet at the start of this year I decided to live BRAVE. I also quit my steady job and enrolled to study Creative Writing full-time.

This somewhat crazy decision has resulted in a tumultuous few months for me. I have retreated into my shell as I have been trying to make my way through severe doubts about my capabilities as a human. Not to mention extreme moodiness and depression.

I really do not deal all that well with change! I envy my friends that thrive on challenges and change. I want to keep moving in my life. I just don’t want to have to move to do it! I therefore have not put hand to keyboard to reflect on my year of brave, as much I had hoped I would. I was too busy struggling to get up each morning to think about being brave.

As I have settled into some rhythms with study and life, freedom and enjoyment have snuck back in. While the work that I am doing terrifies me some days, it enlivens me and brings me so much hope on others. Thankfully more and more of the latter as the days go by.

I am braving the steps of workshopping pieces of my writing in class, trying to write for publication and tackling personal issues in my writing. Some days, as in the day I posted the above status, I second guess myself and feel paralysed by the fear that I have nothing of worth to say. I am learning how normal that is for so many writers and other creatives. I am learning the importance of having like-minded fellow travellers along the journey; to build up a community of people who genuinely love you and support your work around you. It is important to risk using your voice to receive feedback from others who can sharpen and challenge you along your journey too.

Mostly, I am enjoying that journey. I am blessed by the days I am reminded that I do have something that needs to be said… and I want to say it. And so do you, each and every one of you! 

Today that reminder came through listening again to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Opening Address to the 2009 Sydney Writers Festival. You can download a podcast version on the festivals website.

It was this speech on ‘The Danger of a Single Story’ that began to reawaken in me a desire to connect with my creativity. At the time I was studying International Development because I felt compelled to do something of purpose with my life and I thought that required helping people in the area. But then I heard this smart and sassy woman, with an undergraduate degree in politics and communication talking about the importance of telling stories and something broke in me. I am forever grateful.

A shorter version of the talk is available through TEDtalks. Take some time to watch it and be reminded of the power of stories. 

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