This year I decided to write a novel.
The story had been bubbling away in a small corner of my mind for a few months, collecting inspiration from wonderful books I was reading and interesting conversations I was having. The more I thought about the story, its potential twists and turns, the characters that could exist on pages I create, the more motivated I felt to begin writing it.
I had never entertained the idea before. Writing a novel seemed reserved only for those who who come out of the starting gates knowing they are a writer. One of my lovely friends has known she was destined to be a writer since she was a pre-teen, whereas I could think of nothing but my new hair straighteners at that age.
For the longest time I didn't know what being a writer meant. I didn't study English Literature or Creative Writing, but what I did know was that reading had always been such a pleasure for me. To lose yourself in the words on a page, despite where you are in the real world, is a real privilege. Reading can distract us from the stressors and sadness of human life. It can send us to sleep, help us appreciate moments of silence and can provide companionship, like a warm, cosy comfort blanket in the bleakest of winters.
During the UK's bleak winter lockdown especially, I spent a lot of time hidden away with novels and poetry books, devouring each one until my concentration dwindled and the sad reality of the world slipped in once again. If I could ever create such comfort for others through stories of my own, I would grab a hold of the chance immediately.
Eight months later, I've written eight chapters. I would also like to make clear that I am, at my innermost core, an impatient human. It is one of many reasons I love my partner, he has all the patience I lack. It is also the reason I have, in the past, given up on creative pursuits that had gotten tricky or drawn out. I needed the gratification.
But this feels very different. Sitting down to write my novel feels wonderful most of the time, even when I'm stuck in the mud of my plot or character development. Each time I sit down to write, I feel like I'm one step closer to the top of the mountain. I'm not even sure what counts as reaching the top, I just know it will feel awesome when I get there.
And when I'm not writing, I'm constantly collecting inspiration for my story and my characters. I'm spending hours with them in my mind, getting to know them and their flaws, their goals and quirks. I'm planning 15 minutes here and there to throw a few more words on the page, one step closer to the top.
All of this to say, I feel like I have found a purpose. The word makes me cringe a little because it holds so much weight, and too many times I have seen it floating around the capitalist self-help industry that likes to tell us what we are lacking. Before I started writing my novel, I didn't feel like my life was lacking much. Writing has just given me something wonderful to focus on, something exciting and motivating to work towards.
Writing makes me think years ahead because it feels like the journey of a lifetime. Perhaps this is what it means to find a purpose; either way, it feels like a nice place to be.
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