I’ve always been a romantic, I thought, to a fault. But when reading To a Young Writer by Joyce Carol Oates, I found my validation. It was as if Oates reached into my essence, discovered all of my deepest doubts that echo in my mind telling me I can’t be a good writer the way I am, and then instructed me to be all the things I feared would hold me back.
“Write your heart out.”
Oh, those are the words of advice I have been longing to hear. To be told to write your heart out is so liberating. I have been given permission by a wonderful writer to write my heart out. To not hold back is frightening, but also so exciting! I want to be brave enough to scribble my soul onto the pages.
“Never be ashamed of your subject, and your passion for your subject.”
I can write about anything! I just have to put my passions to pages. Whatever I choose to write will be meaningful, because it means something to me. Maybe that is all that matters–at least, that is what matters most. I can write about love, about life, about the mundane, about the romantic, about…absolutely anything. The universe is my limit.
“Don’t live life in order to write about it since the ‘life’ so lived will be artificial and pointless.”
I’m a small town girl, and sometimes that feels like a curse to a writer. In such mundane existence, what could I possibly have to write about? The answer: anything. Writing enriches life, but an adventurous life does not equal exquisite writing. I don’t have to climb mountains or jump out of airplanes to be an interesting writer; though, maybe I will do all those things someday. The point is I don’t have to to be worthwhile.
“Don’t be ashamed of being an idealist, of being romantic and ‘yearning’.”
I am an idealist–moreover, I’m proud of my idealism. I like walking around with my head in the clouds, hoping to find the good in all things and in all people, dreaming with an open heart and an open mind. I like happy endings; in fact, I usually refuse to watch movies or read books I know will not have a happy ending. Of course, there are exceptions. I’m still a dreamer. I haven’t grown out of that, and I desperately hope I never do.
So take Joyce Carol Oates’ advice: Write your heart out.