Sketching, Writing 101

Old Professor’s Ghost on the Misty Road

A couple of years ago I heard that one of my university professors died. He was the most talented belles-lettres scholar I’ve known and a very strong personal influence to me.

That night I had a dream where he knocked at my door and asked, “Where are your stories lately written?” I got surprised and told him I didn’t have any. But he insisted, “Where are your stories lately written?” and I pulled something dusty out of my desk drawer and pushed it to him to leave me alone. When I woke up I had a strange feeling realizing that, indeed, I hadn’t been writing for long, long time.

Next day I talked to my old friend who said that the same night she had a dream with the professor, too, and he told her that she should trust people in her life.

We both joked about how nosy he became after passing away, knocking at people’s doors with his parental advice, but the coincidence shadowed with the existential enigma of death stuck to my mind. I started asking myself, “Where are my stories and why does it bother me that I don’t have any?”

Later that year I read The Element by Ken Robinson, and the book triggered something in me. It talks about self-discovery, true passion that hides within you and pushes you forward. The author claims that everyone has a talent that can bring joy and meaning to their life. It’s simply a matter of finding it, and one of the ways to do it is recalling what you loved when you were a child.

My answer was easy; I always loved books and drawing. I never stopped reading so, I thought, I have to come back to pencils. I did, and it was fun, but relearning to draw kept me thinking about writing. I started seeing parallels between two arts in the way you observe things concentrating on the details, mood and shadows while trying to transfer everything you see on paper.

And then again I had a dream with the professor who, again, asked me what I was writing.

I woke up with understanding that my subconscious really wants something from me and probably I should give in. I didn’t start writing novels right away, I am not such a pushover, no matter how many dead professors come to bother me, but I turned back to an old forgotten habit of typing out ideas, thoughts and worries. And, of course, I renewed my tradition of voracious reading. And then it happened. One day, writing something, I felt I came home. It was surprising influx of joy, the sense of finding what was lost.

I read somewhere that when you go the way that brings you joy life starts treating you to unexpected presents. No, you don’t win a lottery or a cruise to the Caribbean where you should do nothing but bathe in the sunlit waves. Instead you, step by step, discover happy bits in life, and the course of it slowly changes while you follow the road that becomes truly yours.

I was not unhappy without writing, but we all look for some meaning that we cannot find in the droning everyday routine, and writing gives the feeling of not wasting life. It doesn’t stop time, but it gives you moments when time stops.

I now read some books on writing to help myself find the ways to rediscover and express old, deep me that I was hiding or was hiding from. And to my surprise, writing turned out to be not as scary and difficult as I remember it. I must have changed from the student’s days, as now I can see writing as fun. I don’t harass myself about worthiness of the written or the chances to be published; I don’t even bother myself with thinking too much whether it is interesting to read. It is interesting to write. It is enough for me at the moment. I plunge into my mind to dig out forgotten or put-aside things. And I feel that, somehow, every step brings me ahead, even though I have no idea so far where I am going. It’s all in the fog, but still, it is my misty road, and I want to keep going.

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6 thoughts on “Old Professor’s Ghost on the Misty Road”

  1. I really get what you are saying. I have written things off and on all my life but haven’t taken myself seriously. My “professor” came in the form of my son urging me to do a blog. Writing these past four weeks has given me purpose and joy. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on the road. Bon voyage to you.

  2. We are thankful to your old professor, who had the thing the people of old called ” wisdom”. He saw something in you, you hadn’t seen yourself as yet. And thanks to Ken Robinson which helped you rediscover yourself.

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