The first book I ever wrote I plagiarized. It was grade one or two and it was about hippos or something. Complete with traced images. Not sure how the teacher fell for that, but there was no joy in it. I guess I felt that I needed to be better than I was. Maybe that’s what school does to us. Or life.
When I was finished high school, the first time, I moved out to Kensington Market with a friend. I sat there in my attic room with all the junk I’d taken with me, wondering what I would do for a living. I really, really, really enjoyed the biology, chemistry and physics that I’d been doing the last few years of high school, but I realized that it took me five hours of homework every day to stay on top of it. I wondered if I liked it enough to do that for the rest of my life.
I had a pilot license, but for some reason had let myself be talked out of the practicality of being a commercial helicopter pilot. What a shame, in those days I would have enjoyed the survival training in the arctic, but nowadays I think I enjoy my Beanermunky lifestyle too much to do that.
As I sat around pondering “What do I do already?”, I realized I was sitting there amid boxes and boxes of writing. Writing that didn’t amount to anything but suggested that it was something that I liked to do. Possibly to the exclusion of everything else.
In those days, the only creative writing program I could find was Playwrighting, offered through Concordia University. It was a blended degree in Theatre and English and while I learned so much about writing from English, I learned so much about characters and people through theatre. After that and during that time, I studied writing through colleges, universities, private tutorials and summer programs wherever I found them.
Once I felt that I was trained and competent to write, I realized that I had nothing to say. This was a surprise. I spent several years writing for others; persuasive letters, grant applications, project proposals and weird things like the 400-page Chicken Report. I had no voice of my own.
At intervals, I have taken hiatuses from job jobs, declaring that “I am a writer!” and then I realize that it’s pretty darn lonely sitting by yourself all day, every day. Meanwhile, the boxes of writing multiply.
A few years ago, I found my voice. Maybe it was hiding around the corner from 40. Or maybe it was being around people who valued my voice. Since then, I have tried to find my truth and speak it, sometimes even when it doesn’t want to be heard.
I have this idea that our thoughts are powerful. That they create our visions, goals, dreams, shape our thinking and lives, affect our confidence.
I have this idea that spoken word is even more powerful, that it impacts others so immediately, shapes our relationships, shares our energy, communicates the thoughts in our heads.
I have this idea that written word is an even higher level of commitment than speaking, that it shapes our world, our reality, the agreements of our co-existence.
And so as I write I keep asking myself, “what kind of world do I want to be part of?”