I've been finding myself thinking about how very different my life is compared to this time last year. I know that might seem an odd thing as one would hope there would be significant change in a years time, but for a period of a few years my life had become quite predictable. I won't call it 'safe' because it certainly wasn't and if anything, I'm happy to have so much change in just a year after so much stagnation in three years.
This is part of why I came to London, where I've now been living for two months and two days. As I look back on what brought me to this place I can never seem to find a beginning, although there are many spots I could choose from. The thing about life is how the story lines of one persons existence overlap and intertwine, unlike any novel or movie. But I do believe that those story lines feed each other, even if it's indirect or takes an extended period of time.
I've been reflecting on a lot of this as I have been writing my first non-fiction novel. It's turning out to be a much larger project than I first anticipated. When I set out to write it I was doing so as part of a submission to a larger project. It was a piece that might have been included in an anthology, limited to a few thousand words. As I began writing, however, I quickly found that my experience and what I'd learned from it, couldn't be contained to such a limited number. I completed something for the submission but carried on with the piece as it flowed from me.
Because it's non-fiction and because it is, in fact, about me and my experience, writing it can be quite difficult. You always hear the phrase 'Write what you know' and I am a strong believer in that. Of course, when you're writing about yourself you start to see things that you didn't realise you knew. There's a lot of reflection and discovery. I'm fine with this, obviously. I've become a more introspective person, as anyone who has known me for a significant period of time will tell you. I no longer look for validation from external sources and instead, I have learned that happiness is generated from within and self-knowledge is necessary for this to occur.
The scary thing about knowing this is seeing the ways in which I hold myself back. I know, by and large, I am a passionate person with a forward momentum that is admired by many. I myself am often stunned by my ability to create and keep a deadline. With my artwork it feels natural to share it with the world and each completed piece fuels the next one. Each new discovery, whether it be the discovery of gouache or the discovery of a sculptor, gives me an unbridled energy. I think I'm surprised by it because I never let myself identify as an artist before, even though it's so obviously who I am.
However, I have always seen myself as a writer and aspired to be published as an author. I have always written fervently and as a necessity, to capture the rush of my imagination in a novel or to capture my own observations in a journal. I have also chosen, largely, not to share what I've written. Now that I have come to realise my raging Buddhist tendencies, I find myself asking 'Why?'
As my psychologist would probe me session after session, why have I not published one of my five young adult fiction pieces? Why have I balked at writing a blog such as this? Why have I chosen to keep my abundant collection of short stories, musings and essays hidden away from everyone?
No one gets in our own way more than ourselves, just as no one is more deserving of our own love and respect. These facts cause a contradiction. It can be so difficult to love yourself when you see the ways in which you hold yourself back. We seek road blocks for our happiness and I've no idea why we do it. Why I do it. My excuses...my road blocks...my 'good' reasoning as to why I am yet to be a published author are as follows:
I don't like editing my own work.
Every time I sit down to edit something it becomes overwhelming and I miss really obvious errors.
When I give my work to other people to edit they don't give me genuine or useful feedback.
I don't have a printer to print off the first three chapters of anything, double spaced in 12 point font.
So what is it really? Why am I afraid to realise the biggest dream I've ever had? Me, the girl who decided to leave her family and all her friends and the hometown she grew up in to live in the hectic, fast paced city of London? Me, who, at nineteen went to Australia, on the other half of the planet by herself?
I have heard so many people tell me that I am an inspiration to them or that I'm hugely brave for doing what I do. I don't think it's about bravery so much as I can't find a reason not to adventure around the world. I can't find a reason why I shouldn't paint giant tarot cards. I can't find a reason why I shouldn't live my life with the most genuine intention. So I need to stop finding a reason why I can't be a published author, because from what I'm beginning to see, a lot of people like my writing. The greatest discovery I've made since arriving in London, is that people read my blog quite a bit. A lot of people read my blog and send me the most wonderful messages about how much they enjoy it.
So thank you, every one of you who reads this and every one of you who has told me that I write beautifully or that you look forward to new entries from me. Thank you so much for helping me see that all my silly road blocks are mine to own and mine to tear down.
May we all see that this is life, as it happens, here and now. Life is not about what you could do one day or what you hope for eventually. Life is too short for that. Life is about living and living is about doing, not letting or waiting for things to happen to you.