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  • Writer's pictureMario Mainland

My journey as a writer

It wasn’t much of a journey in the normal sense of it. There was no absolute beginning where one suddenly wakes one stormy night, awash with epiphany and resolute certitude of what needed doing by sunrise. There were no stumbling blocks in pursuit of a clearly defined objective, no revelations along the way, no idyllic scenario at the end of a long road that would validate the initial realization, and the arduous steps taken to get to its precipice; where struggle and sacrifice would be worthwhile, and the future ahead a glorious bubble filled with ambitions realized and even more potentiality in print.

No, mine was something of a start-stop affair. Like a mute adventurer driving blindfolded down cobbled roads of some uncharted town, only occasionally bumping into moments of lucid inspiration. The first manifested, while still preliterate, as innocent inquiries many years ago. As my mother tells it, we drove past road signs en route to a holiday destination. What does that one say? And that one? I’d ask.

Then, later in life, it appeared in brief flashes when I would write letters to my parents to extract permission for some strange teenage need. Truth be told, I always felt, even if only on a subconscious level, that writing in and of itself was a relatively simple endeavor. Simple, but always worth-while.

Rock music of the eighties and nineties was another strong influence. It led me to poetry and reading and thinking about the deeper things in life. Some nights I would take the dictionary, open it at a random page, look for an interesting word, and try to make a poem out of it. I didn’t realize it then, but I was practicing (exercising) not only the craft of writing, but training my brain to be creative. I did this, as most of my writing endeavors, in short but intense bursts.

Words always held an attraction to me. Reading as well, comic books and articles mostly, but I just couldn’t find fiction that proved to be worth the time investment. There were some books to be fair, like Harry Potter when I was younger, and more recently, the last two years or so, Scythe (the first one, interesting perspective), Good Omens (my cup of tea and the TV series was pretty good as well), Slaughterhouse Five, Stephen Kings’ latest (which I thought wasn’t fantastic) and the same authors’ book ‘on writing’ which I thought was awesome. Again, only sporadic instances of studious reading. I guess I really just set out writing a book that I would enjoy reading. And hopefully, there are others that will too.

The thing is, the intermittent nature of my writing efforts and the slow slog to find good reading material, was my saving grace. It was never a consuming thing that burnt out as fast as it started. It was a consistent, albeit slower methodology that kept the flame alight all these years. And I learned another thing while putting my work out there and nearly completing my first novel. In between a day job, being a husband and father, and other entrepreneurial activities, you have to keep taking steps forward. I’m probably not coining a phrase here, and definitely not re-inventing the wheel, but I call it the ‘law of little bits’. And it works. Whatever your passion in life, that thing you love, that dream you’re aiming for, every day you need to ensure that you’re just a little bit closer to the target than you were yesterday. No matter how small the deed, if it contributes, it counts. And you’ll find the more you do it, the more it becomes habit, the more you want to do it and make time for it.

It goes for everything in life. If you do things in small intervals, or portions, things have a tendency to stay in balance. Which is always good. Kissing your partner every day, even a peck when you say goodbye in the morning. Eating just a little bit less chocolate than you usually would. Saving for retirement. Working on that novel, or memoir, or business plan, or whatever it is. It all tallies at some point. It has to - everything in our universe is finite. And now, after adding up all the little pieces accumulated over the years, I find myself on the brink of doing something not at all simple, but definitely worth-while.

So… take those little steps, inch forward if you must, read just those two sentences before bed. And before you know it, the next chapter will arrive sooner than you think.


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