How Three Accidents Created a Writer
In a world where most people seem to spend their lives doing things they hate, my writing is both an inexhaustible source of pleasure and an act of rebellion.
Writing is similar to alchemy. Western alchemy, if you recall, has been closely related to Hermeticism, a philosophical system that has its roots in Hermes Trismegistus.
In alchemy an attempt is made to transmute the profane into the profound, to turn lead into gold. His most mystical ambition is to unite the microcosm with the macrocosm through symbolism.
While alchemy eventually became chemistry, writing became a way of bending time and bridging the gap between centuries of thought. While alchemists manipulated materials to serve as symbols of spiritual transformation, writers manipulated their personal experiences to seek spiritual transformation.
I always liked words. I’ve loved you for as long as I can remember. In fact, I remember when I was a child fascinated by how my mother could look at pieces of bound paper. As she lay on her pillow on the bed, I too would open the books and look at them, pretending I was reading too. This amused her and ruffled my curly hair, but I pretended to be irritated, as if my worry had been interrupted.
In school, I won awards for my poems and essays, but I never really learned to write a decent sentence until I went to college. My imaginative ramblings, more than any obvious skill, were the main reason for my congratulations.
Three accidental events started my evolution as a writer.
After high school and before college, my mother sent me to a typing school to get me out of the house. While at the time I was bored with mechanical repetition and more interested in the pretty, studious girls who wrote diligently in the same room, I later came to appreciate those three short months as more useful than all my previous years at school.
Then in college, I found an old abandoned typewriter in the closet of a house I was renting in my second semester.
The third event that shaped my writing career was finding an abandoned rhetoric book when I was part of the cleaning crew that remodeled bedrooms over summer vacation.
The combination of these three things transformed my sheer enthusiasm for literature into the opportunity to turn words into ideas and ideas into stories and essays.
My English teacher, Dr. Sig Shwartz, would take me out for coffee after class and we would discuss philosophy and literature. Under his mentorship, I read Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean Paul Sarte, Albert Camus, Jorge Luis Borges, and Henry Miller.
I spent most of my college years writing furious existential essays. I liked Nietzsche’s aphorisms, Sarte’s irony, Camus’s lyricism, Borges’s golden sadness, and Miller’s rebellion. I imagined that I had incarnated as an amalgamation of all of them.
I vividly remember the night Ray Bradbury visited our university. It seemed to be from another world. An Olympian demigod, similar to Prometheus, who had descended to the plains to share the rhapsody of his inner fire.
His opening words were that the writing began when an unknown human being came out of his cave, looked at the mysterious world around him and the immense star-studded sky above him, then came back and began the first act of writing, painting pictures on the wall. from his cave in the firelight.
In those days, I imagined that the post would be similar to the knighthood. I assumed that a published writer was the greatest possible achievement.
Consequently, I used my History degree to secure jobs as a freelance journalist.
My first published story was about a girl who needed donations to undergo kidney surgery. My article in a national magazine generated a series of donations for her. It was exciting to see my aunt’s face as we sat on the patio of a restaurant and she read my first published article. I immediately got goosebumps after she read the article and she looked at me in amazement and said, “How the hell did you learn to write?”
Once I started printing, it became easier and easier to publish frequently. Then one day, I wrote a book. I woke up from a vivid dream about a crippled girl who believed in miracles and learned to walk. I spent three weeks writing intensively. Since, at the time, I was completely naive about publishing books, I went into a publishing house, asked to see a publisher, and submitted my book. The editor looked stunned, but at the time, he didn’t even know that one was supposed to find an agent and create a marketing package. However, he was very kind about it, put it aside and promised to read it.
Two months later, I signed my first book contract.
Now you understand why, in a world where most people seem to spend their lives doing things they hate, my writing is both an inexhaustible source of pleasure and an act of rebellion.
In closing, I’d like to share with you a few short steps on how to go from a completely blank and clueless state of mind to shaping an article or story.
One, set your intention. For example, my intention in writing this particular article was: “I intend to write a nostalgic account of my writing experience to encourage others who have the same interest.”
Two, think about what you want to write. I reflected on creativity and self-expression.
Three, write in free form. Just write without thinking. Delete your internal editor.
Four, take a break. I decided to clean my home office.
Five, write another draft.
Six, take another break. I went to the kitchen and washed the dishes. While doing this, the idea occurred to me that writing was as mystical an experience as alchemy, and I aspired to the same magical and inner transformation.
Seven, write the final draft (if possible). Sometimes, of course, multiple drafts are needed.