At some point, we all have that moment. That moment when we finally look at our list of goals or dreams or things we want to do before we die and say, “Now. I’m going to make this happen right now.” No more waiting. No more procrastinating.
I was a junior in high school when I took my writing “career” into my own hands. Near the end of 2008 I somehow discovered YouTube, which has not much to do with writing unless you factor in the minor detail of simultaneously discovering the Vlogbrothers.
The first video I ever saw, I’m pretty sure, was this writer I’d never heard of before named John Green sitting in front of a camera, talking to someone named Hank about NaNoWriMo (which I also was not aware existed in the universe).
Naturally, as a sixteen-year-old convinced I was going to be a writer no matter what it took (stubbornness or passion, I’m not really sure which), I decided I needed to read all of this stranger’s books because he seemed successful and down-to-earth. I also signed up for my very first NaNo that October (because why not?).
Well John, I spent all Christmas (sorry – “winter”) break that year reading the then three books you’d published (Katherines, Alaska and Paper Towns). And that January, I started my first blog, what would six years later morph into what is now known as Novelty Revisions.
I’m not sure if this is your fault, but I’m giving you credit anyway.
I published my first essay that year too. I wrote my first book. I finally figured out that if my ideas were worth anything at all, I needed to find that out for myself.
This, I have since come to find out, is a lesson we are reminded of on more than a single occasion.
I learned it again in college, when I realized I wasn’t doing any writing outside of school and felt as though I was falling behind.
And again, when I got my first full-time job, applied to graduate school, basically stopped blogging for two months and almost convinced myself I could afford to put “writing for fun” on hold for awhile. You know. Until I had my life figured out.
Then I forgot why I ever wanted to be a writer in the first place, and my heart was sad, and to fill the void I watched every single Vlogbrothers video ever made, in chronological order, on my way to and from work, in the evenings, long after the rest of the world slept.
Again, there you were, unknowingly screaming at me, “YOUR IDEAS MATTER. WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WRITE THEM.”
Novelty Revisions happened. And then I started writing. I started writing a lot.
Why? Because my ideas, sharing those ideas, allowing myself to be proud of those ideas, gave me a sense of fulfillment I never knew I’d been missing.
You told Adam Grant recently: “You have to find pleasure and fulfillment in [your] work […] find fulfillment inside the work itself.” I first stumbled upon the original video where this quote came from at the beginning of this week, which also happens to be the week I published my first work of fiction.
How do you always somehow manage to reappear in my social media feeds when I’m in need of reassurance the most?
Everyone has their senpai these days (sorry not sorry) and I know every other fan, follower and/or nerdfighter hopes and prays you will acknowledge their existence someday. I don’t need that (not that I would deliberately avoid you in a crowded elevator if we ever happened to both be on one at the same time or anything). I have enough fulfillment knowing that what I am doing with my life – writing, because it makes me happy, not because I want to be famous or financially privileged or anything like that – is what I’ve always been supposed to do.
It has taken me so long to figure this out. Why?
I don’t know. But I wanted to thank you. For somehow always showing up to remind me I can use my words for good and that they matter and that if I’m not happy, my stories will never reach their full potential.
I am happy. It’s been far too long since I could say that and actually mean it.
Image courtesy of HuffPost Arts & Culture.
Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.