Have you ever come across a quote that described something so perfectly, you couldn’t stop thinking about it?
I never remember being so struck by a sentence that I read it again — just to appreciate it — until E.M. Forster’s “A Room With a View.” I was 17 and studying abroad in Italy, and it was the first time I’d ever been assigned a book that was actually worth reading (kind of an exaggeration, but mostly true).
It sounds strange, but I thought about words constantly that year. I was learning Italian sink-or-swim style (I moved to Italy not knowing a word of the language, and was living with an amazing host family that spoke very little English); I was taking Latin, and had just come out of a homestay in Mexico where I was studying Spanish. I was constantly analyzing words — I would hear an Italian phrase on the bus, and smile as I broke it down to its Latin roots and figured out its English translation.
A few years later, I spent a semester in Egypt. I did all I could to say “yes” to every opportunity that presented itself. Nile cruise, you say? I’m in! Camping with the Bedouin in the Black and White Desert? I’m there! I turned all the experiences into blogs, and realized how fulfilling writing is. Somehow, it didn’t matter if the restaurant gave me severe stomach cramps or the bus left two hours late — being able to write about it, turning the worst of experiences into the funniest of blogs later on, made it a wonderful adventure.
I recently came across the quote above by my favorite author, Elizabeth Peters, and it put everything together in a way I haven’t yet been able to.
You combine a love of words with a love of adventure, and you get the craft of writing.
Sure, stringing together a set of words to describe a mundane series of events is technically writing. But there is a skill and a passion to it, just like any other craft, and — for me, at least — it almost makes life doubly rich. You get to experience an opportunity, and you get to write about it after.
Your passion may not be writing, but whatever it is, I hope it gives you just as much joy!