While my hubby is sleeping — and though I know I should, too — I am reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert on my BlackBerry. I just had to read it after having seen the film starring Julia Roberts and now I am marvelling at the apparent ease the author demonstrates, writing down her inner thoughts and deepest feelings. I am more than a little jealous.
From a very early age I have written books. I never published any, of course, because none were ever finished. I used to amuse my parents by declaring time and again to start a book, only to abandon the entire project after only a few pages. Often I even lost interest after making the index page listing titles of all the chapters I intended to write (and yes, by now I do realise that is not the way to start a book). How does one go about becoming an accomplished writer anyway?
Oh I know, it all starts with talent. I think I must have some hereditary talent, my father being an un acclaimed writer and my mother a former correspondent who ended up editing most of my father’s manuscripts before they found their way to the publisher.
I know most of my writing is grammatically correct – at least, my Dutch work. In school, hardly ever rated anything under a 9 out of 10 for Dutch language class, inspired of course on my father, who actually has a doctorate in Dutch language and literature (I, myself, never had any such ambition though). I am sure my English could be better, but then again I am also quite sure it is better than that of the average Dutch.
I love writing, so that is hardly the problem. It is a little harder to make the time, focus and follow my own train of thought – but since that follows a meandering road rather than a straight line, that is by no means an easy task.
My will to write is often hindered by mundane tasks such as work, administration and home chores, even though my Hubby takes care of most of our household tasks. Truthfully, all of the above are only excuses because if I truly wanted, I would create the time to write, right?
The true problem that prevents me from delivering a masterpiece is simply discipline – or, in my case, the lack thereof. Though no one can call me truly lazy – I work hard, about 60 hours a week – I do have the tendency. Often when I really, truly, madly, deeply want something, it feels as if it is just too much trouble and I lose heart. I know I shouldn’t, I’m just funny that way. I keep telling myself I’m not good enough, that nobody will want to read my insignificant little scribbles. On the other hand, it seems everybody is writing – and publishing! books. And they’re being sold. So who’s to say I wouldn’t do well?
Though I have never attended any college, never attained some degree or diploma of more “weight” and stature than my Secretary diploma and have suffered a lack of confidence for the longest time, by now I do believe I am some sort of expert. An expert in what? Well, in life, I suppose, or at least some semblance of life. Having lived most of it very sheltered, I have only recently truly started to live, aided therein of course by my passionate, talented, and wise-beyond-his-years Hubby. Somehow the years before I met him, feel like a sad haze. Of course I have enjoyed my share of happy moments, but I have experienced more than an average share of heartache, fodder for at least one, therapeutic book.
Having spent quite a lonely childhood, due to my extreme shyness, I quietly blossomed into quite a pretty teenager. My Caribbean ancestry, combined with German/Dutch sturdiness and a killer tan turned heads. Not that I noticed, of course. I just wanted to hide and cursed my tall, heavy frame, broad shoulders and my curly hair. I watched my share of Oprah’s to have made “the connection“. A turning point in my young, serious life came at my school’s end of term party. Dressed the part in one of the outfits my Mom made for me, I attended the party with high hopes, only to watch other girls being asked to dance from the side of the dance floor, the eternal wallflower. Crying over my disappointment to my Mom, she said something that probably changed my life forever: “You’re just too pretty”. I still don’t quite know how my subconscious works, but I think I must have decided then and there that I would not be “pretty” any longer. Plus, I needed comfort. So I ate. A lot. And I got fat.
Along with the fat came more insecurities and, of course, doubts. As well as a lifelong struggle to get rid of the fat again. In my darkest moments, I prayed. But it would take years to discover I was praying for exactly the wrong things.
The thing I prayed most for, was love. More specifically, for someone to love me the way I was.
Of course there’s more than a little laziness in that wish – after all, if only I would find someone who would love me for myself, I wouldn’t have to change a thing. And that’s never appropriate. As it turned out, I had to mistake some dysfunctional relationships for love, before ending up with my Hubby, who may not be everything I asked for, but is everything I need. That, in my experience, is how prayers work: you don’t get what you ask, but you get what you need. The road to that discovery can be quite a painful one.
It is quite impossible of course, to sum up my 45-year old life in a blog post, like I just attempted to do. This doesn’t even begin to fill even half a nutshell. Not that I have led such an adventurous or even eventful life, but still, I have had my share of experiences. That is exactly where all my prospected books come in and why I feel I have to write.
Just do it
Well then, what is stopping me from becoming the next overnight sensation? Doubts. Plain and simple. Because if I’m really honest, I have to admit there are plenty of opportunites for me to write. As we speak, I have started writing this blog post on a WordPress app on my BlackBerry, on the Intercity from Utrecht to The Hague. If I wouldn’t have my BlackBerry, a notepad and a pen would do just as well. My Hubby, who is my biggest fan, always facilitates my writing at home, creating pleasant work spaces for me and prioritising my tasks for me so there’s always some free time left for me to write.
I should just do it. Not for my father, because I have outgrown my wish to prove to him I am talented in my own way. Not for my mother, who – like my Hubby – believes in me unconditionally. Not even for my Hubby, who I live for and strive to grow very old with. I should just do it for me.
Because I owe it to myself to let the stories out, give shape to all those ideas, entrust all those untold experiences to print. Yes, I should just do it.