The Journey of a Writer

Stephen King
Stephen King

… arduous to say the least, right? When I consider my style of writing and my habits, it is really just a hobby rather than a serious effort towards anything. Still, even within those light measurements, I battle with the craft itself, whether it’s through this blog, or a paper I have to write, or within my professional settings, and that’s because I do care about my writing. I enjoy the act and want to practice, even if that means sharing only a miniscule amount of skill.

I have several friends that are trying to make it as writers, and know many people through the world of blogging that are constantly referencing the persistence that it takes to be a writer. What do you have to do to be able to call yourself a writer?

Regardless of our reasons for writing, we all struggle with the craft. Finding the right words. The right message. The right tone. And even more so for me, the right fluency for the reader to capture my emotions. And even then, how does a writer reach true satisfaction when in most cases, they don’t even know what was achieved for the reader(s) on the other end of the work? Or, if anyone is even really reading it. Like a lot of art, writers are dependent upon things they don’t really have control over: Emotion. Thought. We can only ask for some level of connection through our words, and hope that it actually takes place. One of my favorite authors, Stephen King, once said this about writing, “A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer, but the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar.” There are struggles in life that make people writers, but there are scars that are a direct result from the craft as well. Even so, people who want it badly enough will keep fighting.

Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me, and Other Poems  by Ghassan Zaqtan, translated from Arabic by Fady Joudah
Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me, and Other Poems by Ghassan Zaqtan, translated from Arabic by Fady Joudah

I’m sure many of you know someone who has had success and this post, in part, is a tribute to one of my best college friends, Fady Joudah. We met while attending the University of Georgia together, both stumbling through jobs at Food Lion at the time. As with any friendship that grows, so does the sharing, but at first, I didn’t know Fady the writer. I knew the Fady that aspired to be a doctor-no matter what.

Over time, the writing became more and more a part of his identity, and pretty soon, he was a writer, or at least, someone trying to be. I know that he laughs at those beginning efforts, but I still cherish them because it was through them that he began. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the early stages and he spent hours and hours on his writing over the years, never giving up. His poetry inspired me to love poetry even more than I already did; it asked of me to contemplate the beginnings of the craft by someone who was genuinely dedicated, and honestly, I had never experienced that level.

For me, that made the act of writing more authentic and it wasn’t that I had never been around writers, but I think it was the first time that I had witnessed the blooming of such persistence. Even now, after all of these years, I’ve found that level of commitment seldom in my life. In part, it led to my continued passion for exploring poetry on all kinds of levels.

Just recently, Fady’s latest translation of poems from Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan, Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me, and Other Poems is shortlisted for the 2013 Griffin Poetry Prize. In the world of poetry, this is a grand achievement. Not only did it make the list, but it is the only translation work on the list. While we don’t know yet if he will be one of the two finalists, it doesn’t matter. At least not to me. While this isn’t his first accomplishment as a poet, making the Griffin list is just a dream for most writers.

I write about Fady this evening not because I think you’ll care about his success; it’s highly likely that no one reading this has ever heard of him, but here is what I do know: some of you can relate to his journey. The arduous love of his labor. The tiring abuse he subjected himself to. Chances are this is the first time you’ve heard of him, but now you have. And now, you know another writer who a long time ago, sat in his room or the cafe or the classroom, and on loose leaf after loose leaf, beat his words up over and over. He never quit.

Whether you are writing to one day get shortlisted, published, educate others, counsel others, or simply for the pure therapeutic outcomes, the journey of your writing does matter. Everything that happens with your writing makes it that much better for you and your purpose.

Keep on keeping on!

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