Many things in life can stop you from writing your masterpiece — dying being the most final. But sometimes, even death cannot stop you from finishing what you started.
As human beings, we are born to create. Art surrounds us in nature at every turn. And just like the heartwood of a tree, our creative gene is at the very core of our being. It is unfortunate how few of us tap into our true potential. It is even more unfortunate when, for reasons we cannot control, it is too late to reach that potential.
To craft art in the written form is a calling many have but few ever act upon. For me, it was never a question of if I should write, but more a question of whether there was going to be enough time to finish what I knew I was born to do. The need to write was knitted into my soul like a hand-stitched blanket, giving me warmth and comfort when I needed it the most. It was one of the only outlets that ever freed me from the irrevocable pain and torture I endured while I slowly died.
Growing up, my younger sister and I created stories together. Taking those stories and fashioning them into the drafted word gave us life and excitement and something to look forward to. We could channel our likes, dislikes, ideas, and emotions into an avenue. It gave us purpose. And purpose can be one of the most powerful forces there is, especially when writing a book.
Something magical happens when you open a book — you are transported to another time and place, sometimes other worlds and realms. The possibilities — where you can go and the people and creatures you can meet and become — are endless. And all of this happens because someone was brave enough and dedicated enough to follow their vision and fulfill their dreams. But there is something even more incredible and wonderful when you are the one who transforms paper and pen into a beautiful tale…
You become the brave one. You become the creator.
So how does one write a book?
Word by word, sentence by sentence, page by page. Pull deep from within, where it almost hurts, where you are filled with wonderment and worry of what others will think of what you have written, of how it and you will be judged. Find where your fear lives and write from there. Fear cannot kill you, no matter how much you think it can.
Read from those who write well and read from those who do not. The former will give you hope and make you want to write better. The latter will also give you hope and make you feel better about your own writing. Both will teach you. Remember, there will always be someone better and worse than you.
Write down your ideas so you do not forget them. Carry a notepad and pen, or use your phone’s notepad, but do not let your thoughts and ideas disappear into the ether, lost forever.
We are all given the same amount of time in a day, so do not waste a second of it. Time is a precious gift you can never, ever get back. If writing was easy and did not take up time, everyone would do it. Be prepared to make the needed sacrifices to accomplish your goals.
Find inspiration from people, stories, and everything that surrounds you. Utilizing other creative outlets, such as music, can help weave characters and storylines together in a melodic harmony. Music is the soundtrack to life, and you as the creator can compose the soundtrack for all your characters and your books. Many ideas that my little sister and I created came from one perfect lyric in a song.
As you go through the trials and tribulations life holds in store for each of us, there are two ways you can face them: you can either wallow in self-pity (which I did more often than I would like to admit), or you can rise above yourself and take those hardships and experiences and use them to help others, use them to create something bigger than you ever dreamed possible. My own personal battle gave me a deeper understanding of true struggle and debilitating pain. Slowly and literally losing the life you have while others around you thrive is something that cannot be fathomed unless you have experienced it. Some, like my little sister, would argue that the greatest battle is not death, but life — to live and carry on after the passing of a loved one and to try to make sense of it all, try to find the leftover pieces of the wreckage and make something beautiful from it.
So to her and to you, I say this: use what you have endured and what you have experienced in life and funnel it into your story, breathing true life into your characters. Let your triumphs, inspirations, and bliss become theirs, filled with hope anew. Let your devastation, loss, and pain bring a profound depth to your work. Bring what is unique about you to the writing table. Hone your craft and learn from others, but write what you have to offer, in your particular way. No one can do you better than you can. No one can create the stories in your head.
Let writing be your therapy when there is no one to understand what you feel; your escape from all the things the world takes from you or sends your way; your refuge when there is nowhere left to hide; and your happy place, where all is finally right and fits together like the puzzle piece you have been missing. Write what you want to say. Write the books you want to read.
Death is inevitable. It will happen to you like it happened to me. Death. Happens. To. Everyone. So write like it is the last day of your life, because it very well could be.
And you might not be as lucky as I — not everyone has a little sister whose life goal is to finish — alone — what you started together.
I have written this essay from the view point of my sister, Laurie Earls, who sadly passed away in 2012. She is the other half to The Earls Sisters.
THE BOOK BUTCHERS
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