My intentions were to write a scathing, angry letter to you. To address all the failures and heartache this dream of being a writer has caused me. I wanted to tell you about the sinking feeling I get when I read another rejection email. How my stomach becomes a rock that pulls my confidence down into a dark hole. Even the edges of my vision go grey like an Instagram filter.
I wanted to ask what the purpose is for having this dream. I have been writing since the fifth grade. My personal blog, It is all Connected, has over 100,000 words. My creative blog, Creative Corner, has 187 posts, most of them poems. I participate in the Twitter very short story (#vss365) community. I have self published five books.
If I stopped writing, nobody would care.
But I have this dream of being a writer. That when someone says my name, they mean poet. I have this dream of someone recommending my book to a friend. That a poem I wrote is someone’s favorite poem.
But instead of an emotional letter, I am caught again in the tangles of writing. I feel the joy of articulating my thoughts onto paper. The power of creating an emotion or thought through words for the reader. I am looking forward to creating the blog post for this letter. I will create a cool title banner for this. Maybe find a video to end with…
But what you have done is light a fire in my soul. I am thankful for this dream. Even with the frustrations and rejection emails I will experience in the future. I have this dream of being a writer, even though I know deep down that the dream has already come true. These words prove it.
“Woman Burning Love Letters Sparks Nebraska Apartment Fire.”
The article stated that a 19 year-old woman was burning love letters from her ex with a butane torch in her bedroom. Some of the pieces that fell to the carpet started the fire.
When I read this, so many thoughts and emotions came to mind.
My first reaction, actually, was happiness. To know that people still write love letters, in this digital world, where we send emoticons as birthday wishes, that the woman’s relationship was so strong that they wrote letters to each other was cool to read. Of course, the pain of ending the relationship is tough to deal with.
Which brought up the next thought. Dealing with pain from relationships and love is a part of our lives. I couldn’t help but think about how many more times she would deal with heartbreak. And not just with relationships. Not getting a job or position, not achieving a goal, there are so many things that can bring us heartache in life. I wish I could tell her I know it hurts but that she will gain strength from this… and that love is still real. She will meet the right person in the future. Life can break our hearts, but love heals it.
Then my poetic side kicked in…
Your words no longer read true
Written in passion
Each letter started with my name in cursive
ended with a heart and your initials
Broken by actions
By trading in our future
for a set of green eyes
I only have this flame
To mirror the heat in my chest
Our future turning into ash
Black, rising in the air
As sections of words
Promises and devotions
Edged with amber flakes
Fall to the floor
My pain ignites the scraps
Flames crawling up the dresser
Consuming the picture of us
Cheek to cheek
Last winter in Colorado
I toss the shoebox holding the last few letters
Into the growing blaze
I grab my phone
and the book I’ve been reading
I close the door
On the burning of our life together
The headline read:
“Woman Burning Love Letters Sparks Nebraska Apartment Fire.”
I was a boy scout in elementary school in Minneapolis, Minn. We went camping once every month. Yes, even in January. We had to plan our meals, decide on job duties, plan a route for hiking, not to mention build a fire. To build a fire properly takes the right environment. A clean level spot. A ring of dirt or stones was advised in my day. You will need the correct wood, tinder, kindling and fuel wood. There are a number of ways to arrange the wood. I usually used the lean-to arrangement. But most importantly you need a spark. Nothing works without a spark.
Everyday I see articles and inspirational photos about finding your passion. The messages from these post are great. But they set an expectation of going from nothing to a full fledge fire. It doesn’t work that way. You have to have a spark. And once that spark is alive, it must be nurtured or else it will be extinguished before it can ignite a fire.
I have seen this human spark start a change in people but falter before it could make a lasting effect on their life. I have seen it in the classroom. I have heard it in colleagues voices. There are things that start a spark in all of us. But instead of fostering that spark to a raging fire, the spark flares up for a day or maybe a week and is gone. Until something ignites the spark and the cycle continues.
There are some things I learned as a boy scout that might get that spark to catch fire. I wish I could guarantee you will find your passion and life becomes one of those inspirational photos, but I spent enough time trying to get a fire going in the winters of Minnesota to know that nothing is guaranteed. But I hope I can share some ideas with you to make a positive difference in your life. Let’s see if we can get that spark to a fire.
Work and Patience
The first aspect is patience and work. You can build the perfect lean-to, have dry, combustible tinder and the first spark doesn’t catch. Maybe it was the wind. Maybe it burned the tinder too fast. Maybe it started to rain. There are too many external factors to name that have the power to extinguish a spark. Same holds true in our life. I love to write, and I have so many ideas (sparks), but life just gets in the way.
If the first spark doesn’t catch, you try again. And again. And again. Even when a spark catches the tinder you have to work at keeping it burning until it catches the kindling. I remember huddled down around the small flame, hands spread out like bird wings trying to protect the flame from the wind. Sometimes gently blowing onto the flame so it would catch another twig on fire. It takes patience and work to get that spark to a level that it is ready for fuel wood.
Whatever sparks your heart, if you are not willing to work at it, you will never reach that level of passion in your life. You have to work and you have to have patience. You have to make time to work at that spark.
The Right Fuel
Once that spark has become a fire, it needs the right fuel. You would think any wood would work for a fire, but no. Each type of wood has their own properties for factors like heat, smoke, and coaling. Some are better for cooking, while others create a great campfire mood with intense flames and sparks.
There is not an easy answer for what fuel you need to make your spark into a fire. Factors to consider regarding this include time, finances, a mentor, and schooling. The hurdle for many people at this stage is the What now? question. No campfire keeps burning without someone looking after it. Nobody succeeds alone. Take the time and be honest in considering what or who you need to succeed. What will it take to keep the fire burning? Then collect the right fuel to keep your goals going.
The Fire is Out
Someone might be thinking, ‘I had the passion, in fact things were going well, but I still failed. The fire is out.’ I understand. Believe me I know the feeling. But don’t just throw away this post just yet.
Every morning we would start our breakfast fire from the coals left over from the night before. It would take a little work and patience but in no time we were cooking eggs and bacon. The embers of our failures can be the “spark” to new adventures, new goals. Those new goals still need work and patience. They will need the right fuel. But you can take those coals from a past spark to start a new fire.
Share with me how your spark became a fire.