Mind, Body & Spirit

The Wandering Road of Words | Searching For Your Story

I feel like I’m always waiting; waiting for the right story, waiting for the right moment, waiting for life to come and swoop me up by the coattails and not put me down until I’ve reached my dreams. But here’s the truth: waiting gets you nowhere. The story, the moment, life, it’s all happening right in front of you. You just have to open your eyes and stop searching for your story. 

I was recently recommended a book from a reader of this blog. The book was The Alchemist. Somehow I’d managed to get through high school and a literature degree without ever crossing paths with this story, but like the omens the book speaks of, for me, the book was a gift when I needed it most.

Think about how many books there are in this world. Now think about how many of these books have had the ability to reach in and speak the language of your soul. After a youth of avid book reading and a literature degree later, I’ve read hundreds of books, but only a handful have gotten that far.

Only a handful have really swooped in and showed me things I already knew, but hadn’t learned how to comprehend. Only a few have made me stop and pause to catch my breath because I knew I was reading the truth of the world. Only a couple have planted themselves into my DNA.

As mentioned, reading The Alchemist came at the perfect time. I’ve unfortunately spent more time berating myself for my recent lack of writing than actual writing. Don’t get me wrong, I carry a notebook with me at all times just in case I feel a burst of fresh prose coming on. I have dozens of pages typed out on my phone filled with notes for the novel I’m working on and a collection of single sentence blog ideas.

The daily challenge of a writer is that you’ve got to know your story and sometimes the story is disguised.

Writing has never felt like a task. It’s my escape, my exit into another world. Writing is my wonderland. In my Nirvana, it’s just me and my words. Sadly, my time in wonderland has declined. I could blame this on my lack of time, but the truth is I’ve been slacking. I’m a writer. That’s who I am. I came to this city to provide myself with all of the opportunity and resources a writer could ever need. And I haven’t held up my end of the bargain.

I hate to reflect on my own shortcomings. I, like, really hate it. But also, because I’m a writer, I understand the benefits of constructive criticism. That’s why I try to have a ‘round table meeting’ with myself every so often and evaluate “the work I’m producing” both personally and professionally and observe where I can improve.

Recently, there’s been one big soulless black hole staring back at me – my writing production since being in New York. I’m living in arguably the most inspiring city, yet my computer keys are remaining untapped.

Part of me feels like I’m still trying to take it all in. I’m still in shock and awe with the city. There’s a great piece of advice my best friend, Scotty, stole from Bob Dylan and reminds me of often, “Know your song well before you start singing.”

I’m still learning my story. But then again, the purpose of this blog is to document my experiences on that journey. It is my own version of The Alchemist. It is me on the search for my personal legend.

This year, on my twenty-seventh birthday, I started writing my second novel. This is my passion project, a story I’ve wanted to tell for years. I’ve been writing variations of this story since my freshman year of college. It’s a story I’m in love with, but it feels like a story I’m still learning.

My stories protagonist is a very popular (fictional) musician. However, I’m attempting to write these stories about traveling on tour and other worlds that I’ve never experienced. And yes, I’m a writer with a wildly overactive imagination. I could easily tell the story. But I’ve got this idea about writing, I don’t just want to sing my story . . . I want to know it.

The writing that has spoken the language of my soul has been from writers who really knew their story. It’s been Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott offering me inspiring heroines. It’s been Fitzgerald explaining the reality of a tragic love. It’s Hunter showing that life can be just as terrifying (and wild) as fiction. It’s Elizabeth Gilbert explaining how to really start living. And now, it’s Paulo Coelho, reminding me that the universe is working in my favor, I just have to make my move.

And, YOU KNOW, when a writer knows their story because a single word or phrase, can crawl beneath your skin and into your bones like a threatening illness. You feel it – their feelings – sitting there lingering, refusing to be ignored. The feelings are real. Those writers and those stories are the ones that stay with you; those are the ones you return to.

Knowing the potential of words increases the challenge of writing. You desire true depth. But that limits your storytelling because you’re waiting to find the right story without realizing that you’re amid it.

My current protagonist’s story is still being written, all around me, every day. While I’m not fully living my character’s story, he’s  required to live in mine. We live vicariously through each other. And together we’ll find his conclusion and my next chapter.

For me, in this moment, I’ve got to keep reminding myself that being a successful writer takes 10% talent, 90% dedication. Of course, I don’t want to just be a successful writer. I want to speak the language of someone else’s soul. I want to shed light on the truth. And sometimes, these moments of wandering, searching for your story, are the most important part.

Following a five-year stint in New York City, Ashley is now a Los Angeles transplant. Having grown up in rural Kentucky, Ashley is passionate to share self-care techniques used around the world and hopes to make them accessible to folks in rural communities. Ashley believes in gratitude, personal legends, and doing good. Aside from being a business leader in her professional life, Ashley is a novelist and freelance writer.

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