If you don’t already know, I self-published my debut poetry book, Floating Tears, somewhere in May 2021 as a pretty normal, not really extraordinary 17-year-old girl. Today, I still think I’m pretty normal, not really extraordinary (if my aunts read this, they’d be offended…oops, khalas, LOVE YOU), just a year older and a published writer.
Let’s rewind several years back—before O-level-me who had tossed her dream of writing aside and before middle-school-me who exceeded the English class essay’s word limit by several hundred—right to grade-4-me. I can’t remember much before then, but I starkly remember Grade 4 as the beginning of my writing career. I had it all; the words, the characters, the squiggly, meant-to-be-gory illustrations, and the biggest tragedy of all—betrayal by blood! And not just any blood—DRAGON blood! I had written the best story ever, drew all the scary dragons and the one who had a ‘heart of gold’ (yes, I had just learnt the metaphor and used it for everything because my English teacher applauded it), a coloured (red) front and back page, and binding! That was when I knew that writing was my calling.
As I briefly mentioned before, my writing career saw an upward slope until O-levels when it didn’t just go through a recession period, but died altogether. The horrors of school life finally got to me and all I knew was studying and fitting in. However, after a few years of being a self-centred teenager, I had had enough. Long story short; I got a few reality checks, was thrown into quarantine, and had a lot of time to myself, which after several months of lazying around, I used productively for both, my professional life and my mental health.
Fast-forward to the beginning of 2021; I wrote down a bucket list of the things I wanted to do during the year, and for some unexpected, cosmic reason, in between all the ‘wants’, there was one ‘wish’—and that was writing and publishing a book. I didn’t give it a second thought after that, going back to the A-Levels life and dealing with growing up.
Sometime later, I started having the weirdest, most vivid dreams (I think I’ve always had them but they were either more frequent than before or I had become more aware of them)—in one, I was learning about Greek Mythology; in another, I was travelling through space and time; another had me aware of myself dying—but the one that shook me the most and created this domino-like chain reaction was the one in which I was drowning, or well, not-drowning. I don’t know. I was somewhere in the ocean, dark blues and blacks were all I could see with shards of light glinting through every once in a while, seaweed eerily clung to me and swayed this way and that… I felt time… but only, it was timeless.
…Time is timeless;
One blink, two blinks, three.
I am nowhere,
but I am everywhere
and time is infinity…Extract from the poem, Floating Tears.
I woke up in the middle of the night, absolutely shaken (but not in a bad, frantic way) to the point that despite most of the lights being off and my glasses still sitting on the nightstand, I got up and clumsily walked to my desk, blindly grabbed pieces of paper and a pen, fell back into bed, and began scribbling. That scribbling (that I could barely make out because of the lack of glasses on my face) turned out to be a four-page long poem, called Floating Tears. How poetic—oh, the irony.
Mind you, yes, I had always dreamed of being a writer but ‘writer’ in my books meant ‘author’ as in ‘author of some fantasy novel with vampires and mermaids and love and tragedy’. Never in my life had I ever thought of writing poetry! I appreciated it every once in a while but that was it! And yet, here I was, writing poetry as if it came straight from the soul.
It began like that. Most of my poems came from my dreams—some metaphorically, which included me waking up and writing about them, while others, were quite literally from my dreams (as in, I dreamt of the words and woke up quickly to write them down before I forgot). I knew right after Floating Tears that I wanted the title of my poetry book (if it ever got to that) to be named after it, and lo, and behold, Floating Tears eventually became a reality.
I guess, the moral of the story really is that your childhood dreams aren’t stupid or childish, and that even if you forget about certain goals or ambitions because they seem impossible at a time, they really do come back in forms you’d never expect.
Keep dreaming! (to be corny, I’ll put this out there; I certainly will!)