There was once a time when I used to dream of writing books, I used to fantasise of being the next New York Times bestseller. Knowing how many authors claimed to be the number one, I had no idea on how to get there, until one day an opportunity arose.
It decided to show up in the glorious form of a writing competition. The prize was a total sum of 130 dollars (in South African Rands of course). My confidence and my enthusiasm took a major hit when I realised that I was competing against the whole of the African continent. However, being ambitious and admittedly arrogant, I decided to give it a swing.
So out came the paper, special pens, the cup-a-soup, and the music. I have, or rather had, a very specific layout I needed in order to get the gears in my brain turning. Everything had to be absolutely perfect, in fact I was occasionally influenced by the weather. The music had to be old enough so that I wouldn’t mouth along, and not so new that I would be intrigued by the new sound. After all of this preparation, I cleared my head of everything, my predictions for my favourite series, my day at school, and basically any other thought that would hinder my brainstorming.
Ten minutes of brainstorming later I was still blank. I hadn’t been able to produce a single idea as to what I could write. I started with a trick I had been taught by a friend, to just start writing about a conventional topic until I thought of something better. So I started writing about aliens. I wrote for about twenty minutes and still, nothing.
There had to be something wrong, I rechecked everything, the earphones, the pens, the music, the soup, I was on the right side of the table… everything was in order. I had tried everything¬—aha yes! There was something I could do.
I stood up and picked up a packet of nik naks from the pantry, I then logged into my computer to read some good old short stories in an attempt to find inspiration. Countless stories were murdered by my hungry eyes until finally, I came to the conclusion that I was not a writer. I had toiled and troubled my life’s worth, and I was tired, not only tired but I was also frustrated at my brain’s incompetence. I had given up. I had emptied my container of confidence, not only was the need for pure genius demanding, but it was chipping away at my dream. My dream of one day being a major writer like Robert Ludlum or John Green. It was becoming increasingly obvious that my worthless, pathetic self was never going to make it.
Days passed, the deadline grew ever nearer, and my soul grew ever heavier, convincing myself that however hard I tried, I would never be good enough. My performance in all my subjects decreased, they changed from being slightly above average to being close to a fail. Every night I would go to bed pondering this foreign, simple, yet complex feeling called sadness.
Then my mother suggested something, she bought me a diary, and suggested I write what had happened to make me so sad, and then write how I felt. So I did what everyone would have done: I listened to my mother. I sat down and wrote everything that had happened. I was just about to write how I felt when I looked down at the page and saw my essay.
It was right in front of me! I could not believe how blind I had been, how ignorant and childlike I had been to flood my mind with toxic, depressing thoughts because of one essay. Instead of writing someone else’s story, I should just have written my own.
Well, I submitted my essay and although I didn’t win, I was left with a life lesson that I would never forget as long as my feeble human body could keep the breath in me: everyone has their own story, so don’t let yours be forgotten.
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