Igniting an Old Flame

It’s easy to forget you love something.

If you’d told 12-year-old me I could forget I loved something, I’d have laughed at you. Back then, love was this mystical idea of perfection. Love was all strong men sweeping women off their feet and so on and so forth.

That isn’t the kind of love I mean though. There’s a lot to be said about forgetting you love someone, but I am talking about something.

We all have objects or activities we love. An object might go missing and we forget it and then, months or years later, it turns up and we feel nostalgic and excited. We forgot how much we loved that book or sweater or pair of earrings.

The thing I most often forget I love? Writing.

When I was a kid, I wrote stories all the time. I filled notebooks with tales of alien princesses and teen girls using magic pens to write their future. I got swept up in stories, and reading them wasn’t enough. I had to write them. I had to tell them, mold them, shape them and share them.

In seventh grade, I wrote a novel. 247 pages handwritten. Every day, my friends would gather, and we’d discuss the story. They each had a character based on them. They told me what they wanted their character to do, and I made it happen. I made them fall in love and break up and have babies and even die. It was like our own RPG (real playing game).

By high school, I’d moved onto angsty poetry. I wrote it in the margins of my notebooks. I wrote it on receipt paper while sitting at my desk at work. I even got two poems published.

I loved it.

I carried writing with me, in some form or another, through marriage and motherhood. I tried writing articles for magazines. I sold a few pieces, but I didn’t enjoy that style of writing. Eventually, I returned to my first love. I wrote a story as a gift for my stepdaughter on her 12thbirthday. And writing it was so much fun.

I’d forgotten that I loved it.

With that story, I remembered. Then you couldn’t stop me. I pumped out novel after novel.

And it got hard.

I sent my precious manuscripts to agents, and agents rejected me. Then, I signed with an agent, and we moved onto editors rejecting me. And then I split from my agent and tried to find a new one and was back to being rejected. And then I signed with a new agent and dove back into those heartbreaking complimentary rejections from editors.

Sometimes, I forget I love to write.

I have to be reminded.

I bet you could say the same. I bet there are days you can’t remember why you went to school and got a job teaching fifth graders. You can’t remember why you attended seminary and became an ordained minister. You can’t remember why you flew around the world to be a missionary, or went back to school to get your doctorate, or opened that catering company, or invested so much money in art supplies.

We forget we fell in love.

We forget how that felt: how alive, how passionate, how invincible we were.

When he told me this story – especially the part about the jungle swallowing up the machines – chills ran up my arms. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up for an instant, and I felt a little sick, a little dizzy. I felt like I was falling in love, or had just heard alarming news, or was looking over a precipice at something beautiful and mesmerizing, but dangerous. I’d experienced these symptoms before, so I knew immediately what was going on. Such an intense emotional and physiological reaction doesn’t strike me often, but it happens enough (and is consistent enough with symptoms reported by people all over the world, all throughout history) that I believe I can confidently call it by its name: inspiration.”  — Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

That’s what I was missing. I remembered inspiration. I remembered falling in love. There was a dream of living underwater, one I woke from certain I needed to use it. The images of the fish swimming past windows and the air tanks for leaving home stayed with me. I got an email about a contest. Could I write a short story that focused on climate change and the future of earth?

The passage in Big Magic came back to me. I had the chills and the hairs standing up on my neck and I felt a little dizzy, a little sick, a little like the boy I had the biggest crush on just asked for my phone number and the homecoming dance is two weeks away, and could he? Would he?

I fell in love again.

I don’t even need the story to win that contest because I already won. I remembered.

I remembered I love writing.

I love stories.

I love this thing I have chosen to do with my life.

What is it you have forgotten that you love? How can you recapture that feeling? Tell us your suggestions for igniting an old flame. Read a book by someone who loves the same thing you do. Find yourself surprised by how the sharing of their feelings will revive your own.

 

*originally published on Middle Places

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One thought on “Igniting an Old Flame

  1. Pingback: Building Your Own House | Heather Truett

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