2013: My first year of writing

At least, that's my intention for the year. Goodness knows I've made and broken as many plans, goals and resolutions as anyone else who tries. But I think I've finally found what all those broken resolutions had in common – they took me away from where I really want to go.

Before I had any strong sense of identity or relationship with my world, I had stories, ideas, and a relative ease with the English language. My addiction to reading began almost as soon as I started reading by myself, and as a child I freely, un-self-consciously made up stories that were inspired by the stories I read and heard. My academic competence and ease with numbers and logic were discovered soon afterward. Later, as I started to become a confident writer at school, it seemed to me that many peers and teachers found my stories strange and my ideas disturbing. To keep safe, I put more effort into maths, science and computing (all of which I liked but did not love), and my literary ambitions went the way of most childhood artistic dreams.

I became infatuated with the discipline of history and with the church (both historical and living) at around the same time. After dramatically failing first-year maths (my 'best' subject at school) and becoming frustrated with the deconstructionist bent of the Melbourne University English department of the 1990s, I turned to history and theology. What remained of my literary ambitions went into essays and sermons. I wanted to tell the truth, not 'make things up'. I never stopped reading fiction and knew that fiction wasn't a simple matter of making things up, but I had by then withdrawn from Melbourne's literary community and surrounded myself with academics and ecclesiastics.

I spent enough time with theological students to hear many ordinands and clergy talk about Vocation in the tones others use for the idea of One True Love. I want that – don't most people? – I want the feeling of belonging, of knowing my gift and being able to share it with others. Maybe I have a One True Vocation, maybe I don't. But I tried to convince myself that my vocation was in either the church or academia, and I can't keep up that pretense any more.

I have friends, a church community, a queer community, and professional peers in the world of free software and web development. But my relationships with all of these have been shaky at times. Take them away, and all I have left of myself are strange stories, disturbing ideas, and words, many words.

2013 won't be my first year of making things up and writing things down – that would be more like 1981. 2013 will, hopefully, be my first year of taking creative writing seriously and no longer running away from myself. The last eighteen months of not studying have helped me gain some distance from the academic mindset. The next year or so will be dedicated to exercising my creative muscles again.

As a footnote of sorts, I might retire this blog and spend less time on Twitter and Facebook – I want to spend more time writing, editing, and re-writing quality prose (and maybe poetry), not spurting out one-liners and half-baked ideas. On the other hand, there may still be a place for a blog in this new plan. I haven't decided yet.

Topics: