Have you ever wondered, “Have I made it yet? Is this it? When will I ‘arrive’ as a writer?” If you have, I want you to change ‘make it as a writer’ to, ‘living a fulfilling life as a creative’. And if you read on, I will tell what a difference that slight change of perspective can make.
So, I’ve had a life change—another one. (Thanks, life!) I recently started teaching in my community, and last Friday, I had the chance to teach my two favorite subjects: reading and writing. Let me set the scene. Picture it. Cicely, 1922. Oops, that’s The Golden Girls. Picture it. Texas. 2023.
The Room Where It Happened
I will admit these kids between nine and ten shared excitement and reluctance when faced with an afternoon of reading and writing with me, a near-perfect stranger. I was equally wary and a little nervous. Would they eat me alive? I’m just a lowly bookworm with visions of grandeur like all writers are. Like many creatives, I just want a career that pays the bills in an enjoyable way while giving me time to write.
The magical scene unfolded thusly: one of the boys finished early and was like…what next? And I said…have you ever written a Haiku? And I grinned because he said, ‘What’s a Haiku?’ SQUEEEEEE. I got to tell someone new about HAIKU!! Because Haiku poems are brilliant and challenging, and everyone must write one before they die. We all know this.
And you know what? He did. He wrote one. I gave him a high-five on his first Haiku, and I felt something slide into place in my heart. It dawned on me not like a thunderbolt out of the sky but like the fog lifting as the sun rises. This is what I am meant to be doing. Sharing what I know, and maybe, if I’m lucky, pass on my enthusiasm for the written word to someone young enough, or young enough at heart, to let that fire grow inside them.
I am not a teacher, but an awakenerRobert Frost
I have awakened to what I am supposed to be doing. I knew I was a writer. I knew I loved poetry (although I can’t quite call myself a poet). I knew I was a reader and a learner. But now I know, no matter what happens, that I am meant to share this love of literature with others. It makes my heart go flippidty-flop and gives me a sense of awe and wonder again at the universe where I thought I would never figure things out.
Living a Fulfilled Creative Life
I have cracked my own code, finally. This is how I want to spend the rest of my life. Writing, reading, and sharing this passion for the absolute magic of the written word to others. Who gives two flying, ahem, geese, if I ever get to use the money I make as a writer to put a downpayment on a house with a pool and a secret passageway to a hidden library? Not me. I’m perfectly happy to use the bank robbery money for that. Meanwhile, what an amazing life I have laid out before me. I took so many wrong turns and false starts to get here, but here I am. How lucky and privileged that is. And what kind of a jerk is out there telling me I can’t call myself a writer because people outside my own community don’t know my name? That’s just silliness.
This is a love letter to teachers from kindergarten to English Essay Writing 101. But, it’s also a call to having more than one calling. A lot of times writers have this mistaken impression that if they’re not writing full time, or making the rounds of a New York book signing tour that their writing isn’t good, or meaningful, or necessary. That’s erroneous. That is only one path, only one in an endless array of beautiful, fulfilling paths that your love of writing will take you. What is yours will come to you. What is not was never yours. Seek out your own path with an expectation of awe. And don’t give up until you feel it. Feel all the ways a creative life will amaze and delight you, I dare you.
Angela Yeh is an East Coast Canadian native who grew up a stone’s throw from Stephen King’s Maine. She now lives in Texas and sees Chuck Norris on the always. Angela is a short tall-story-teller who loves to garden, write about magic, and eat cake. If you’d like to check out her first published novel, A Phoenix Rises, she will send you cookies. She lives with her husband, two human children, and three fur babies. You can follow her antics on Twitter and Instagram or on her website.