• V.P Colombo

The day I was born as a Writer

I've been thinking about writing a book for few years now. Actually, I've been dreaming of writing a book all my life. It's only a little less than two years ago that I took the big jump. And it was terrifying. First, because I found myself writing in English, which is only my second language; second, because I wasn't about to birth the kind of book I fantasised about since I was a teen.

No, it wouldn't be a philosophical essay about the search of happiness and humankind's eternal dissatisfaction. It was going to be a cookbook and just the idea of it depressed me. Let's be honest. Cookbooks can be beautiful, they certainly are useful, but from a writer's point of view writing straight forward recipes can boring, to me anyway.

So reluctantly I wrote an introduction that I had to submit for a writing retreat. It was bad, and when I say bad it's an understatement. It was lifeless and totally uninteresting. I still got a spot to spend five days in Fiji amongst ten other women to learn the craft of writing. How? I don't have a clue!

The first day was painful, as I realised I had nothing to do there; that everyone else was working on memoirs, crime books and self-help books, and of course had an exceptional ability to express their ideas. I was miserable and felt worthless. I followed the workshop as I could and did the exercises, not without struggling a lot though. Then came the homework. Not only I had to suffer all day, it was following me at night.

There were two exercises for the next day. I don't remember what was the first one, and frankly I don't know if I've done it. But the second one was from an excerpt from Eat Pray Love, and I had to impersonate an emotion, a quality or a flaw as a character. It wasn't easy. I spent hours trying to figure out what to do; and then it came to me, it flowed. I switched the light at midnight, happy to have completed at least half the task.

On the second day, we learnt plenty. I felt a bit more at ease, thanks to the incredible women who surrounded me. They were supportive and not judgemental. So, when at the end of the day, our mentor asked who wanted to read what they wrote the night before, it's almost naturally that I raised my hand. I was shaking, stumbling on words as my heart rate was at the roof, but they were listening, captivated even. I could feel the emotions, the intense silence was benevolent, comforting and a sign of approval. Then they bursted into laughter. Jackpot! That was the reaction I was expecting. Their feedback was constructive and way better than I thought it would be. My text moved them and made them dream.

On that day, A Little Bite of Happiness was born. At that particular moment, I knew that it wouldn't be a cookbook but a book about emotions, sensuality and pleasure; and that the recipes would be there only to illustrate the stories.

On that day, I realised with pride, that it wasn't only a dream, that I could write.

#writing #tips #lessons #English #followyourdreams

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