i remember the very first time i decided, with absolute conviction, that i was going to write a book.
it was in the middle of the summer -- July 2009 -- a few short months after i'd graduated from college. my two closest friends (@tanagandhi & @razberry28) were working as camp counselors, lassoing little children into single file lines, begging them to behave and to stop shoving craft-macaroni up each other's noses. (i may have made up that last bit about the noses.) they'd finally managed to escape the neon-shirt wearing children in their camp-counselor-groups long enough to take a quick five-minute-not-really-a-lunch break, and i used their few precious moments to harangue them about my sudden Aspirations.
"I HAVE DECIDED TO WRITE A BOOK!" i announced. quite literally, announced. i may have even pumped my fist in the vein of one Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods, flexing my impressive non-muscles in the glare of the Orange County sun.
i awaited my accolades.
fortunately, i have a pair of really excellent friends who were willing to indulge me. they oohed and aahed in all the appropriate places, and i skipped and made faces and drew plans in the air. "I THINK I'M GOING TO WRITE SOMETHING SUPER ORIGINAL. SOMETHING WITH EYELASHES. YOU KNOW. EYELASHES THAT HAVE, LIKE, SUPERPOWERS OR SOMETHING. IT'LL BE EXCELLENT."
i think i saw their smiles waver for less than half of a second, but really, i mean, these ladies are such exceptional human beings, i can't even be sure. it may have been a trick of the light. it is entirely possible, however, that that exact moment was the moment they thought i'd lost my mind. not sure. they deny it. who really knows. the point is, they were on a five second work break, and i'd decided to accost them only to talk about my great Endeavors. they soldiered on, the troopers, smiles planted in place, high-fives and thumbs-ups abound. encouraging words! lots of excitement! tentative follow-up questions reinforced with lots of excitement! concerned forehead wrinkles quickly appended by encouraging words! KIND, BRAVE SOULS, THESE FINE YOUNG LADIES.
yes. i was mightily encouraged.
i burst back into my day job with fervor! i would write a book! about EYELASHES! THAT HAVE MAGICAL POWERS! THEY WOULD BE PURPLE! AND REALLY WEIRD! AND THINGS WOULD HAPPEN THAT WOULD BE AWESOME! I WOULD ASTOUND THE MINDS OF ALL LITERATE CITIZENS! NO, SERIOUSLY!
i typed away like a crazy person. almost two whole pages! double-spaced! in, like, an hour!
holy crap, tahereh, seriously, slow down, the world can't handle that much Awesome at once, you'd better take a break and show this slice of Genius to anyone with two eyes and a decent grasp of the English language, is what i said to myself. HOW ABOUT THOSE TWO FINE FRIENDS OF YOURS WHO SEEMED SO THOROUGHLY INTERESTED NOT FOUR SHORT HOURS AGO?!
like most sane civilians struck by unexpected Genius, i couldn't be bothered to wait. i took my laptop and my Genius directly over to their Place of Residence, where i quickly determined that we needed to order pizza. i would do the dialing, as my Genius was wont to do. MAKE HASTE, PIZZA MAN, i shouted in the quiet of my head, suddenly fancying myself telepathic. i had somehow connected the eating-of-the-pizza with the sharing-of-the-Genius, and impatience was itching at my elbows.
FINALLY! the pizza! delivered! MY MOMENT HAD ARRIVED.
with such gusto! and such splendid gesticulation! i shared my two double-spaced pages of Genius. and these two very dear friends of mine applauded my purple prose. they admired the adverbs so generously wedged between every other word! they didn't point to the clock and tell me they'd decided to retire from our friendship! no indeed. they told me to keep writing! IT LOOKS GREAT, they said to me. GREAT WORK! they said to me, not once glancing at the clock.
we spent the rest of the evening eating pizza and googling multi-colored eyelashes. for research, obviously. (because it had very quickly become not just obvious, but really, very obvious just how earth-shattering this book would turn out to be.) and not once, not ever, did they laugh at my ideas. not once, not ever, did they ignore my excitement. not once, not ever, did they point out just how horrible that manuscript would turn out to be.
i actually wrote that manuscript. the one about the purple eyelashes. finished it. it was the first step i took toward becoming a real writer. it was the first (and not the last!) bad manuscript i needed to write in order to learn how to be a writer.
i think i got pretty lucky, having such good, generous friends. and i think i'm pretty sure that not everyone has that same kind of encouragement, especially not the first time, especially not when you need it the most, especially not when the excitement, the hopes and the dreams are bursting through you, tumbling into your hands, wrapping you in a warmth of possibility SO POTENT you can actually feel it, thrumming in your heart.
and i hope if you have that encouragement, you treasure it. and i hope if you don't, you do now.
i hope you won't be afraid to dream big.
i hope you know that every word is worth it. that every dead manuscript is one you've learned from. that every rejection in your inbox is one you'll grow from. that every day you're smarter than the day before.
i hope you never give up. i hope you dance around the house and hug your ideas to your heart and remember why you love to write.
i hope you know that i'm cheering for you.