Best Writing Tip: Trust Yourself

loving yourself as a writer


Writing was always my first love. One thing I wanted above all else was to be a writer. But my father had other plans for me.

‘You must have a proper profession,’ he said. ‘Writers are always paupers. I don’t expect my daughter to pass around the hat for her sustenance.’

And so, to the medical college I went, burying my dream in a corner of my heart where it lay for 36 long years while I went about my profession. Perhaps my father had a premonition of sorts, as I became a widow nine years later, with two small children under five to support.

‘I’ll have all the time in the world when I retire,’ I thought. ‘My children are well settled in life, and I have no encumbrances. So I can now put muscle into my secret desire, and who knows, I might even turn out a bestseller.’

‘What? Retiring at 60? Doctors don’t retire, for goodness’ sake. Why don’t you start your private practice? Or you could even help out in some charitable organisation,’ said friends and foes alike.

‘I will follow my dreams,’ I thought, ‘and no one’s going to tell me what to do.’

I relocated to another city where no one knew me, and I have never regretted my move. It was time to release all my doubts and march towards my goal. There was so much I had to tell the world.

Having worked in several countries among women belonging to different social strata, both in urban and rural settings, among the rich and the poor, I knew their hopes and dreams, their joys and sorrows, their frustration and pain. My diaries were packed with material that could fill many books.

But would these stories sell? I had no formal training in writing. Nor did I have a benefactor to promote my interests.

‘So what?’ I thought. ‘I have patience, persistence and prayer on my side. My awakened desire now craves consummation. I feel it like a fire in my bones. I will write and keep on writing.’

As I worked on my first novel, I started contributing short stories to magazines and Sunday newspapers. I even wrote children’s stories.

Today I have five published novels, a biography and a children’s book. My short stories have been included in two anthologies. The protagonists in my stories are strong women who overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles and gain an identity of their own.

However, it has not been an easy ride. There have been many roadblocks en route: rejection slips that would probably cover the four walls of my room, nasty criticisms from readers, unfriendly editors, indifferent publishers, sleepless nights and restless days!

Yet as one writer said, ‘Not honouring your passion for writing is like hanging around the periphery of life instead of immersing yourself and dancing in all the glorious colours of a lived life.’

I’m glad I have released all my self doubt and now exude a quiet confidence because, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ‘Self-trust is the first secret of success.’

About the Author

Eva Bell is a gynaecologist and freelance writer. Her short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and on the web, and she has published several books: Silver Amulet, When Shadows Flee, Halo of DeceitRunaway Widow, Power Surge in EdenKnee Jerks and Gallop Rhythms and Portraits in Dignity.

In 2008, Eva won the Dubash Prize, conferred by the Goethe Institute Chennai, for the essay ‘Dancing Bulls’. Her book, Womanism: The Adventure of Being a Woman, was awarded the Rev. A. Lobban Indigenous Literature Award in 2012.

E-books: Cactus Hill, Storm in the Desert, Survival Strategies in an Angry World, Back from Beyond (Amazon Kindle), Singing Gondolier.

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