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When I was asked to write about having writing as a hobby, I accepted because I love writing more than anything else in the world. It’s what I’ve been doing my whole life (since I learned to write, that is), and what has gradually, particularly this summer, turned from hobby to profession. However, I had no idea what to write about writing. In writing this article I’m currently deleting and rewriting the same 500 words, and trying to make language work for me the way it’s supposed to.
There are many things I could say about being a writer and about writing. I don’t wake up every morning at 7 am to write 2000 words. In fact, more often than not, I end up not writing anything but mean self-deprecating tweets for months. Sometimes I write 6-7 thousand words in one sitting, and then I delete them, and then I start again.
But then one afternoon when I was done with my articles for the day, I wrote a cycle of 14 poems about my grandmother. For someone who spectacularly failed math over the course of my entire formal education, I have always looked at my writing and measured its success and productivity in numbers – number of publications, awards, nominations, certificates on my wall, bullet points in my CV.
The truth about writing, and being passionate about writing is that if you want to write professionally most other people won’t take your passion seriously. People aren’t impressed when I tell them that I’ve self-published a book. They want to know what I’m going to do now, as if committing time and effort to putting out a finished product was some kind of a phase that I’m bound to grow out of. I still remember a rather well-known Bulgarian journalist I worked with telling me that he doesn’t put much stock in “Creative writing” as a major, and that I should focus on something more substantial, as if his peers weren’t saying the exact same thing when he was studying journalism 40 years ago.
At Lancaster I met a community of writers, so dedicated to their craft, and to their art, people who believed in themselves and in each other, that initially I couldn’t believe it. The first time I attended a “Flash” reading, I was entirely overwhelmed by the atmosphere, by the people who were there because they wanted to be, who took themselves and their work seriously.
This year, I am co-executive editor of Flash. Sometimes just thinking about it makes me want to sit down for a minute – a chance to work with people that I admire, like-minded individuals who share my passion is overwhelming. The very idea of these events – both the ones organized by Flash and the poetry readings that were happening in Costa over the summer term, is so different than anything I had ever experienced when attempting to share my writing. An audience that is willing to listen and engage, and respond actively is the best kind of audience anyone could ask for.
For emerging writers this community is a fantastic way to get involved, try out something new, and have an immensely rewarding experience of sharing their work and connecting with an audience of people who are all on a different step of their creative journeys!