Why did you choose creative writing?
Writing is a great creative outlet for introverts and overthinkers. Those who know me well can attest that I have never been a quick thinker. My answers had to be carefully measured, which often made me the quiet one in the room. I’ve also always been better at expressing myself through writing, and it often takes me some time to craft a reply.
Did you do a lot of writing when you were younger?
I was a reader when I was young, but not a writer. I learned how to read when I was very young. There’s a story my mom told me, where I was just four years old and I was on a train trip with my parents, and fellow travelers were amazed that I was able to read a newspaper with understanding at such a young age. This ability meant I devoured books and became a knowledge sponge.
Unfortunately, the strict school curriculum I was subjected to didn’t offer opportunities to be creative. Essay assignments were mostly about analyzing poems or books with a strict emphasis on history. That was when, feeling discouraged, I turned to the sciences. I concentrated on math, chemistry, and physics, as these provided me with clear structures that I could lean on. Writing essays became a mindless activity to just get by and get a good mark, not something that would further advance my understanding of creative writing.
Did immigrating to Canada change your mind about creative writing?
Not at all. I was eighteen when I immigrated to Canada. I entered Canadian high school with only a basic understanding of English. I remember sitting in the school hallway during my break period when one of the teachers came over to talk to me. I had no clue what they were saying, and only after a while did I realize that I had been asked to take my winter jacket off. When the teacher left I felt everyone's eyes on me, and that moment got imprinted in my memory. Being proficient in English felt like an unattainable goal.
I buried any dreams to do any creative writing in favor of the scientific subjects that I knew well, and which would allow me to get into University and find a good job, where poor English skills and accents were not major obstacles to succeeding.
I never abandoned books, though. I began to read more and more. First in Polish, but slowly I started to read in English as well. I always carried a book with me wherever I went, a habit that I keep to this day. My vocabulary continued to improve, but even though story ideas began to come to me, it was not enough to convince me that I could write.
When did you gain the confidence to write?
Writing and confidence don’t necessarily come together. I’ve heard many writers say this, and it’s true. When I sat down years later to write the first story, I still felt like I was kidding myself, because who wants to read a story written by some immigrant with broken English. I eventually put it on paper with the intention of one day lighting it on fire.
I found the process of writing relaxing and enjoyable. My introvert self loves diving into the story and its characters, and exploring human emotions. Each evening I look forward to spending some time with the heroes and villains. I even enjoy editing, modifying and rewriting the manuscript.
After six months of writing I became attached to the story and eventually gave it to my husband to read.
What motivates you to keep pushing forward?
Now that the publishing target date has been set for March 2022, I’m experiencing a lot of fear and uncertainty, but I wouldn't be here without the army of family and friends standing behind me giving me the courage to continue. To write. And to never let go of my dreams.