Glancing Back and Gazing Ahead

When I was in first grade, my teacher told my mom I was a good writer. I don’t know how she could tell at such a young age but she could see the signs already. We did a class project where we got to make our own books. This was a DREAM project for me, even at seven years old. We got to write our own stories, illustrate them, and write up an author biography. We even went through a mini book-binding process where the teacher took us one-by-one to the art room. There we laminated the pages of the book and put a plastic spiral through the edge to hold it all together. I wrote two books then. One was a dramatic little thing called “The Little People”. It was about a man who was famous for being the smallest person in town, but one day, an even smaller man showed up and became even more famous. The first small man was sad and angry, but in the end he realized they could both be small and both be friends. It didn’t need to be a competition. (Plot! Rising Action! Character Development! I had it all.) The second book was called “The Egg”. Maybe this counts as my first nonfiction piece? It’s the story of the time my cousin, sister, and I found some duck eggs in our back yard. My cousin told me not to touch them because the mom would abandon them if I did. I touched them anyway and later that day I saw the mother duck fly away and wondered if she’d ever come back.

My fascination with writing and reading continued all the way to the present with 29-year-old me. It’s strange to think about how somewhere in the back of my mind I have always wanted to be a writer. It’s the only thing I have ever been sure of. But somewhere along the line I took that confidence and certainty and tucked them behind a wall built of fear and self-doubt. I always wanted to write but I would never do it. I’d think about it. I’d tell everyone how much I wanted to be a writer. But I’d never actually write stories. Instead I stuck to journaling every day about what I hoped I could be doing in the future.

I didn’t notice how much I was hiding from my writing until I graduated high school. A friend asked to read one of my stories and I realized I didn’t have any finished pieces that weren’t assignments for class. All I had was pages of ideas and notes for things I’d like to write one day… but nothing else. This unfortunate rut continued. I kept journaling but avoided writing fiction. I let this drag on, and on, and on, until… This year.

This year I finally started writing my first book. In July I got an idea that stuck with me, and since then it has gone through several changes during the planning phase, but all that matters to me is that I’m doing it. I’m finally writing.

I don’t know what has taken me so long to get to this point… Scratch that. I do know. It’s that I have let my self-doubt and fear paralyze me. I have let those two convince me I’m not good enough to try or I’ll fail if I do. But I’m not listening to them anymore. I’m listening to Leigh Bardugo telling me to shut that voice down and keep going. I’m listening to Georgia Hardstark tell me that it doesn’t have to be perfect as long as you just fucking do it. I’m listening to my dad tell me failure isn’t as scary as I’m making it. I’m listening to all of my friends and the rest of family tell me they know I’m a good writer. They believe in me, so I should too. I’m listening to everything inside of me that’s saying this is what I’m supposed to be doing. And for once in my life I can tell that I’m finally doing the right thing.

This is the biggest and most important accomplishment I have for 2019. I finally started writing my first book. So now I am only looking ahead, gazing into what could happen and what will be with determination.

My goal for next year is to finish this book. Then I’ll write another, and another, and another. I’d like to finish my first draft in January. And I have a lot of plans to write more posts about everything I’ve been learning a long the way. There has been such a huge learning curve for me during all of this. In the past I would’ve been so hard on myself for struggling this much or working too slowly. But this is all new to me! I’m allowed to stumble and figure things out, especially because I’ve never done this before. I don’t have a style or pattern or routine that works for me because I’m just getting started.

Everything feels new and fast and exciting and yet I also feel like I haven’t even done anything yet. I know there is still so much work ahead of me. To be honest, I’ve felt so much fear and anxiety throughout this whole process. I kind of get scared just thinking about it… The new and unknown and all of that. But it’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to be nervous. All that matters is that I keep going.

Author: Drea James

I have a dream of becoming a full time writer and I'm documenting the whole journey here. I really like love poems, novellas, and 80s horror movies.

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