I used to dream of being a writer when I was young. I wanted to be an author. Something in me stirred when I learnt about the existence of the Booker Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, and the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Its not the prize itself I sought after, but the kind of influence it represented I wanted to write something that would resonate with the world and drive some sort of positive influence through words. I didnt know what then, but I loved to write. Alas, I was told that authors dont make money, and its hard, and not everyone can win the prizes and and and . And so I became an executive / banker / manager for 7 years.
In retrospect, is it all bad? Not really. I love my company, I really do. I learnt a lot and enjoyed my time there for a while. I met lots of good people. I may sound bitter at times but really I am no hater. I think corporate life and experience is valuable, and I still think the company I worked for is one of the better and ethical ones in this society.
Yet when I look back, I always ask: what if? What if I had continued entering all the writing competitions, studied literature and creative writing in some obscure college? What if I persisted against all odds and the adults who thought they knew better what was for me and tried to become an author? What if the time I used for debating was spent on writing? What if, What if? Useless in asking such questions, but unavoidable when one did not make decisions that they fully allied with at that time. It was the best option given the circumstances.
I was afraid to diverge from the well-trodden path.
Now I look back, I had never really given up my dream. The fire was not completely put out. I have been writing a journal since I was 10 years old. In high school I loved English lessons and wrote my compositions with fervour, and soaked up every bit of literature possible. When I was not allowed to study the humanities I spent my own time reading poetry books borrowed from the library. In summer school I leaped at the chance to take creative writing courses and burnt midnight oil perfecting the techniques I learnt. In university I wrote for the campus magazine, the dormitory publications, extra essays, research thesis. I even started my mumble jumbles on an online diary, the fad of the time. I unconsciously grasped every chance I could to write and express my views on any trivial personal matter or perceived contentious issues of the world.
One day last year, as I was trying to list out things of my interest to do, I became quite stuck. I liked that list, but nothing on the list sparkled at me. But as I kept writing my list of things to do or places I would like to visit, I also started writing down my thoughts and feelings. I had written less in my journal for a while because I lost interest in doing anything for some time. And then I kept writing, and writing, till one day I decided, I need to write and get it off my chest and out there. And I wrote 11 pages in one go and gave it a title.
Then as I was writing, more thoughts splurged out. And then I resolved to stop hiding from the world. I was sick. I was stressed. I have something to say to the world. And so I started this blog.
My first blog post was published whilst I was in the care of Dr Karl Jacobs. During that time he also asked if I was interested in watching a Japanese movie called Sunset, a movie that commemorates life anecdotes intertwining with each other, of struggle after the war, of family, of love and of friendship. One particular character was this author-wanna-be who keeps a snack shop and writes comics for a living, trying year after year to win the Atsugawa Prize. My fire reignited.
And so Im writing a book now or more precisely a book proposal in the hope that it will one day turn into a book in your hands. It is a dream I have and I can visualize the book on shelves around the world. It makes me smile. It doesnt have to win prizes nor sell a million copies.
Im doing it for myself, to fulfil the dream Ive always had.
Some thinks it a bit silly to do so; Im just a little bit late in chasing those young naïve dreams I had in my teenage years. But hey, even if my book doesnt sell one copy, I can at least sit back on my rocking chair with a Bellini in hand 50 years from now and smile at myself I tried, and I followed my dream.
Im happy for you if you are living your dream, and your life is good. I really am.
But for now, Im going to stop looking at you and your life. I will stop comparing at all.
I will live my own romanticized life now and chase my dream.
Be me. Be natural.