Writing My Own Destiny
by Devyani Borade
As writers, we know better than anyone the power of the right word. A carefully picked verb, an aptly placed adjective – these are the things that make us tick. We could probably live forever off the high of a perfect rhyme and a thundering opening paragraph. But I could never have imagined the far-reaching effects of what started off as a hobby.
I like writing. A new idea for a story makes my eyes shine with excitement. An unusual sentence construction makes my heart flutter. Expanding my vocabulary in the English language is a goal that seems inexhaustible and unattainable, no matter how long I practice the art of writing. Having the capability to create something out of nothing, having the ability to move people and to change civilizations with the simple weapon of arranging a few letters in a certain way… it is intoxicating! It is exhilarating! It is liberating! And it is boundless. There is no limit to imagination – it requires no funding, no infrastructure, no supervision and no timetables. My imagination is my ideal employer and my ideal employee.
In 2003, I was a young woman who had just entered the big bad world of corporate employment. My hopes of having an exciting life were soon dashed when I found myself stuck instead in the endless drudgery of nine-to-five paperwork. Where was the dynamism of ground-breaking innovation? Where was the vibrancy of a multi-cultural team? The high point of my routine used to be the mid-afternoon tea break during which I could catch up on the news.
Until I discovered The Blog.
March 25, 2004, had started out like any other day. I nearly missed my bus to the office, had an argument early in the day with a colleague, and then got an earful from the boss for a recent botched job. Perhaps it was this combination of unsavory events subtly changing the molecular structure of my brain that made me click that hyperlink. Perhaps it was a primitive instinct of my ancestors that made me curious. I’ll never know. But clicked I had, and suddenly a whole world of possibilities opened up.
A title, a few words about myself and I was ready to go. Within moments I had become the proud owner of a piece of real estate on the Web. A blank slate. A fertile mind. I was in business!
Over the next few months it seemed as though my fingers would not stop typing. Everything that had been pent up for so long came spilling out. But was it all toxic and poisonous spleen? Not a bit of it. In some strange way, the more stressed out and upset I got, the funnier my writing became. My blog posts described little mundane happenings in my day or my own thoughts, but in such a light-hearted voice that I soon gathered a small but loyal following. Not a day went by when I didn’t write. ‘Why I was late today’ (kidnapped by aliens who wanted me to cook for them); ‘How to peel an orange’ (start at the base and work around the middle without breaking the peel); ‘The art of clicking your tongue’ (when done properly can result in loud mini-explosions) were just some of the wacky topics that I was writing about.
Years passed. I got married, arrived to live in a different country, forgot old habits. My initial enthusiasm with the blog diminished, and for a while it took a backseat as I got busy with my new family and new life. Then one day, my husband asked me why I wasn’t writing anymore. ‘It was your writing that made me notice you, you know. I read your blog posts and realized how much I wanted to know you personally. And the rest is history!’ he said. ‘Why don’t you resume doing what you obviously love and are good at?’
Why not, indeed? No sooner said than done. I sat at the computer, opened up my text editor and waited for inspiration to strike. Half an hour later, I had still only written my name and was staring with dismay at a blank screen. Had my creativity dried up? What happened to all those brilliant ideas? But slowly, painfully, I started to limp back into the groove. My very first attempt at writing, all those years later, was a story about a young boy who learns to share. This produced about two thousand words of utter rubbish. Not one phrase was funny. Not one sentence scintillated the senses. I wanted the story to evoke tragic emotions within the reader, and the story indeed did make me weep, but for all the wrong reasons. However, thanks to hubby’s patient persistence that didn’t allow me to give up so easily, I persevered. And to my absolute delight, my writing got steadily better day by day.
In the meantime, I was picking up new skills – I had begun to learn swimming. After the first few lessons, when I had convinced myself that I wouldn’t drown within thirty seconds of stepping into the water, I thought, why not write about my experience? Wouldn’t that be fun? The next day, a 1500-word article was ready and waiting for hubby’s words of praise. To my surprise, I got more than I’d bargained for. ‘Why don’t you see if you can’t get this published?’ he said. I was thunderstruck that someone could have so much faith in my writing as to suggest sharing it with the rest of the world. But once my self-doubts had cleared, I became optimistic. I lost no time in scouring the Internet for a swimming-related magazine and submitting my article to it. And thanks to the wonders of instant electronic messaging, I got a reply within half an hour. They wanted to publish my story! What’s more, they were going to pay me for it. And not only that, they were sending a photographer to take photographs of me in action to print alongside my story! Talk about beginner’s luck.
Since then, I haven’t looked back. Each new experience, each new activity that I take up goes straight onto paper. I have published over fifty articles using this strategy. Sometimes I reverse the principle. If there is a particular magazine I want to submit an article to, I think of a personal angle to it and write as if it has actually happened to me. My husband calls it ‘real fiction’ – fictitious extension of a real-life incident! It is an immense feeling of affirmation and validation to think that there is someone out there who is willing to pay for what comes out of my head. The little blog changed my life. Oh, and I still remember to update it every now and then.