Laini Taylor: On Writing
“I want to talk about creating your life. There’s a quote I love, from the poet Mary Oliver, that goes:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
I so clearly remember what it was like, being young and always in the grip of some big fat daydream. I wanted to be a writer always, but more than that, I wanted to have an extraordinary life. I’m sure I dreamed it a million different ways, and that plenty of them were ridiculous, but I think the daydreams were training for writing, and I also think they spurred me to pursue my dreams for real.
Daydreaming, however awesome it is, is passive. It happens in your head. Learning to make dreams real is another matter, and I think it should be the work of your life. Everyone’s life, whatever their dream (unless their dream is to be an axe murderer or something.)
It took me a while to finish a book. Too long. And you know, it doesn’t matter how good a writer you are unless you finish what you start! I think this is the hardest part for most people who want to write. I was in my mid-30s before I figured it out. The brain plays tricks. You can be convinced you’re following your dream, or that you’re going to start tomorrow, and years can pass like that. Years.
The thing is, there will be pressure to adjust your expectations, always shrinking them, shrinking, shrinking, until they fit in your pocket like a folded slip of paper, and you know what happens to folded slips of paper in your pocket. They go through the wash and get ruined. Don’t ever put your dream in your pocket. If you have to put it somewhere, get one of those holsters for your belt, like my dad has for his phone, so you can whip it out at any moment.
Hello there, dream.
Also, don’t be realistic. The word “realistic” is poison. Who decides?
And “backup plan” is code for, “Give up on your dreams,” and everyone I know who put any energy into a backup plan is now living that backup plan instead of their dream. Put all your energy into your dream. That’s the only way it will ever become real.
The world at large has this attitude, “What makes you so special that you think you deserve an extraordinary life?”
Personally, I think the passion for an extraordinary life, and the courage to pursue it, is what makes us special. And I don’t even think of it as an “extraordinary life” anymore so much as simple happiness. It’s rarer than it should be, and I believe it comes from creating a life that fits you perfectly, not taking what’s already there, but making your own from scratch.
You can let life happen to you, or you can happen to life. It’s harder, but so much better.”
Laini Taylor is the author of Daughter of Smoke & Bone, the Amazon #1 Teen Book 2011
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