Living for What I Love

Humans like to find comfort in routine. We tend to fall into these traps of not knowing what else is out there, because all we’ve known is the environment around us. We grow accustomed to safe places that hold less risk, opposed to what might happen if we attempted something new. That something new could hold the key to our growth and our ability to be a better person.

A better version of ourselves.

That’s all I’ve ever tried to do.

Be me.

Be brave.

Be courageous.

I’m a girl too, so I’ve had my fair share of breakdowns, uncertainties and challenges. But, importantly, I’ve continued to move forward. I’ve taken breaks here and there, cried a lot, felt directionless, and constantly misunderstood, but I’ve never stopped. I’ve found solutions to problems and leaned upon people who made choices easier.

Those are my people. Those people get me!

And this … this is my story.

As a small child, my mother would catch me flipping the pages of children’s books. There is one book where she states the pages are worn because of the number of times I’d turn them. Even at that age, my passion for books and storytelling existed somewhere in my young developing mind.

Fun fact: the first proper novel I ever read, was The Wind in the Willows, written by Kenneth Grahame.

So, let me fast-forward and take you to high school. It was there that somewhere along that journey I clearly got lost. It didn’t seem like there was anything I was good at other than writing. And that was quickly dismissed.

I had no idea that pursuing a career as an author was possible. Nobody talked about that, nor expressed that all creativity was anything other than just a hobby.

Around me, there seemed to be those who soared through assignments, and here I was struggling because I took things literally, and thought I needed everything perfect.

Most of the time, I pretended to fit. I had very little confidence in who I was in because nothing seemed to showcase my strengths. I couldn’t invest in anything because my heart was never truly in it.

My heart was in my writing. It loved that. It was in the books I had yet to read, and the shelves waiting to be filled with further purchases. I wanted to build a library and imagine that I was surrounded by staircases of storytellers wishing to have their voices heard.

I wished to join the realm of authors. I wanted desperately to have that life – somehow! It was waiting for me, I knew it. I don’t know how, but deep inside of me I kept the dream alive, that one day I’d have the chance to make it happen.

Apparently, that made me crazy.

But guess what? I’m doing it now.

Eventually at school it came time to start choosing career paths. As I mentioned, I didn’t think that being an author was possible, so having chosen media studies in my later years, I presumed that there would be some avenue of career that way.

Despite being told that a media teacher was the best I’d ever get, I decided to go down that path regardless. It was at least creative. I could make something that made a difference. For that was what I wanted – to make a difference with that special gift I possessed. Little did I know, I had only scratched the surface of that purpose.

Looking back, I was at least heading in the right direction, even if I didn’t know it.

In school, it’s depicted if you finish with good grades, you end up at university. Finish that and you’d have a career. That’s how it was supposed to go. And maybe that was the case for some.

It just wasn’t for me.

The thing was, I never really was the study type. To this day, I’d say the same. Trying to fit so much knowledge in your brain for a final exam … the thought of it gives me anxiety. I learn, and can show my abilities, by doing it in a practical manner. That’s why JMC Academy appealed to me.

So, having said that, moving onto university.

Here, I’d chosen to study a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Film & Television). This art, as I’ve come to learn with all creative pursuits, requires a deep passionate love to make it work. The key word here, is love.

I didn’t love Film and Television enough to make it work, and to justify spending hours upon hours of free time, developing something that I couldn’t see benefiting me in the future.

The important thing to note is I met people, friends who saw what I was capable of, and knew that my pathway was outside the screen and on the page.

I loved story. Thereby, it was through the subjects of screenwriting, directing and editing, where I started to learn and pick up the basic frameworks of storytelling. I was getting somewhere. I was starting to believe. And somewhere along that journey I started playing around with a story coming together in my head, and which I imagined being this big series that would represent everything I ever loved.

It started just like this. Male protagonist. Rain forest. Fantasy. Dragons. 

Screenwriting became my favourite class at university, and even though I enjoyed having freedom to create whatever came to mind, it still felt too restricting a format for the style I wished to write in.

I’m an elaborate describer, and I’m often told that I talk too much. In most cases, I always have to cut back on essays. You can see why I struggled sometimes with screenwriting, as it is straight to the point, providing succinct details so that the director can then interpret them however they see fit. What I needed to do was to find a happy medium.

Soon enough, it was time to face the real world. I graduated having little idea where I was headed, or what I wanted.

All I knew, in my lack of confidence, was that I now needed a job. So, I looked towards the only guidance I had at the time, and ended up landing a job far from anything that would represent my talents at all. It also became one of the biggest lessons of my life, forcing me to build walls in the case someone tried to use my kindness against me, which they did.

Many times, people used my naivety and good-will against me, and I was pushed and forced into a belief system where the only way to survive was to retreat within the walls of safety I had created in my mind.

It’s taken a long time to feel safe enough to venture out from within those walls. But I have a great set of people around me now. I have them to thank for the peace I now feel.

Nevertheless, I learnt the hard way. It really is devastating to know that I’m not the only one to go through the things I did and can only hope that someday, I can help those voices wrongly being silenced. Just like mine was.

Here’s a little secret – it’s why I write. I write because I have a gift, and I know that. So, using that gift, I wish to make a difference.

I have the drive now, and here’s how that happened.

I’ve always wanted to write a fantasy novel. The idea of creating a world from scratch seemed like so much fun. I mean, why not? Here, I was able to escape into its realm, forget about this world for a moment and dive straight into the exciting journeys of characters whose stories often embarked upon magical quests. So, sometime later, after university, I was talking to a bus driver who knew of a publisher in Montmorency. At the same time, I’d invested in two short courses, involving storytelling and self-publishing.

Suddenly, by taking the chance to drive forty-five minutes from my town to Busybird Publishing, it was from there that doors began to open. I had found the gateway to my purpose, and all I had to do was to start walking, no matter how long it took. I had found my beginning.

From that moment, a time I describe as euphoric, nothing about the idea of becoming an author scared me. It was like a light had been switched on, shining so brightly, I’d have been a fool to have missed its message.

My story then started to take form. I put hours of work into various character profiles, and developing the initial fundamentals that would eventually lay the foundation for the world I was and am now still creating. Everything about it made sense. And so, the more I developed my skills, the further I connected with like-minded individuals; hence my knowledge, confidence and perseverance grew.

I love my story, and even to this day I am very protective of its contents. I share details only with those who I know can understand the severity of its significance to me as an individual, writer and storyteller. Not everybody understood, and I found that I would feel a sense of uncertainty if ever I spoke to the wrong people about my ambitious intentions in becoming an author. It would make me doubt myself. And that was the last thing I needed.

It’s been five years, and after much work, dedication and planning, I have completed my novel’s initial draft – having learnt so much along the way, despite my itch to have it complete and on shelves.

Patience. Discipline. Resilience.

These are the things I need to keep going.

This novel represents every part of me in ways that only such a depth in writing can describe. I hold it in high value because during my darkest and scariest moments in my mind, it’s been there for me; it’s been my guide to something amazing, something great, and something purposeful. It led me towards a light, which I saw only when I was side-by-side with my characters, issuing their adversities and challenges, and finding their balance and connection within the light and dark elements in us all.

Though I know that my challenges are far from the worst kind, the battle I have with my mind is continuous, and it’s taken a long time to find peace with the person I am, and with who I wish to become. All I know, is that the best version of me is when I’m seeing words on a page and arranging them accordingly into a structurally sound narrative.

I love doing that!

Up until now, I have had numerous people, strangers even, speak to me about their lives, their hardships and often, they have told me how they overcome such adversity with an open and grateful heart.

Often, I reflect upon how beautiful these stories are, inspired to continue upon the path I’m on, and to not give up on myself. For I wouldn’t then have a wonderful story to tell, just like them.

Having said that, hidden within the pages of my novel is a heart full of passion, of love and of humility. It may be a fantasy, but it’s relevant and unique as it explores the framework of the chosen one a little differently than most novels in that genre. At least, I believe so. Heavily influenced by Avatar the Last Airbender, a storyline so beautifully crafted, it has become my default series whenever I’m feeling a little low.

My purpose and wish in life, is to inspire, spread kindness, and to tell stories that represent resilience, fight and truth. I’d be doing a real disservice to myself if I stopped now, and I didn’t go forward with what I see as a justifiable reason to pursue something that makes me happy. 

Nevertheless, it’s because of Busybird Publishing, and many others who have supported me in my passion, that I now have the confidence to get this novel done.

I cannot wait to share this journey with all of you, when eventually I get to the stages of publishing.

For now, it’s back to the writing board and editing!

Alison Achter
Editing Intern

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