• Daniela Sylmae

Writer's Journey | Chapter 1: When She Opened The Portal

When I fell out of love with my passion for writing, I felt lost. Never did I think I’d find the light at the end of that tunnel in a dark room with dim light in my peripheral vision. It’s a bit ironic to think that I found myself in darkness, but I suppose you cannot see the light unless there is darkness around you.

Throughout my years in college, I spent much of my time focused on my studies and my organizations. I was studying a double major in journalism and French, and I was in some kind of leadership position in at least three major organizations, including VP and later president of a writer’s club, an editorial director of a college-oriented food blog, and a director of a news department at the university’s radio station. I had a busy life.

So busy, I did not have time to write my stories. I had forgotten the feeling I got while I was engrossed in my own tale, not realizing that it was 3 a.m. because all I was worried about was getting to the next scene. I had lost my connection to my characters and their voices, struggling to find them when I tried to write again, giving up when I got frustrated.

Frankly, I had even grown ashamed of calling myself a writer, because I encouraged all of the members in my writer’s club to give themselves permission to take time during the meeting to write, even though I never gave myself permission to do it.

All I could remember was that I loved to write, though I couldn’t remember why, and I had all these unfinished stories to prove it. However, for a long time, I didn’t accept the fact that I had lost my love for writing. I had an excuse. I was building an audience online.

Twitter. Instagram. A blog. Followers. Newsletters. Writing advice videos. Research. Marketing. I was a writer without a published word to my name trying to prove to people I was an author. My eyes were on the statistics. They were focused on how the numbers didn’t match the engagement and how the small 600 followers I got on twitter meant nothing because no one would actually buy my book since my tweets rarely made it over three likes.

Nothing was working. I felt like an imposter and a failure, but I tried to do something about it. I desperately wanted to rekindle my fire.

I wanted to learn more about the craft of writing, so I took on a concentration for creative writing. It gave me a wonderful experience with plenty of new skills in my writer’s tool box. Each semester I tried something new to make sure I had time for my own novels, from blocking time out on my schedule to work on my writing to forcing myself to pull out my WIP during free-write time during club meetings instead of working on club logistics.

Nothing ever worked. There was always something that took precedent. It was maddening honestly. I truly became afraid that I’d never be able to write again, the way I used to.

However, one thing I do love about myself is that no matter how far I’ve fallen, I always get back up and try again.

On the other side of my coin, I had fallen in love with radio and broadcast journalism. I intended to pursue my career in it, so I took all the experience I could as news director.

However, as my last semester at the university crept closer and closer, I realized I loved my radio station far too much to not have my own show on FM. Sure, the news department had a show every Friday morning, but I was a producer watching over a different host each week. It wasn’t my show. The other problem was that I am not music savvy. I listened to music people don’t typically listen to and I am terrible at just talking out loud about something I know nothing about. I knew, if I were to do something on the air, it had to be something different.

Being used to my busy life, I decided to make the most complicated show I could think of: an interactive storytelling show. Each week, I would write an original story to a playlist of film, video game, and epic scores in which the listener was the main character. Each week would be a different story so anyone could listen at any time. The show was called The Fantasy Realm, and I was your host, The Sage, guiding you through the portal to the realm of Fanntasia.

This is the portal that brought the light back into my passion for writing. It was this portal that reminded me why I loved writing so much.

In the studio, it is only you and the microphone. Though there are possibly thousands of ears listening to you beyond that room, you are physically alone with nothing in front of you but the microphone.

This is what I loved so much about this blend between my writing and radio theatre. My stories came to life, and for the first time in a very long time, I was entertaining myself.

I wasn’t writing for anyone. I wasn’t trying to gain an audience. I was just having fun, making silly voices with my subpar voice acting, being so very dramatic when the story called for it, even bringing myself to tears when my own story moved me so much.

Every week, I had an obligation to this show, and in a way, that meant I had an obligation to myself and to my passion. A fire cannot keep burning without kindling, and I was finally adding wood to the fire inside my heart that had almost burned out.

I wrote in genres I had never written before just for the hell of it. I invited friends to be voice actors just for fun. For my final episodes, I even added some sound effects to really make it an experience for the listener.

This show gave me life again, and it reminded me that my writing is for me. It doesn’t matter how many followers I have or how many people buy my book. I just want my stories to find a home on the shelves one day, even if all they do is gather dust. At least my characters will have a home there.

Thankfully, that lesson was learned quickly and deeply, for my life decided to test me one last time. In the second season of the show, I started to lose my grip on my passion. I missed several episodes. I lost my desire to write. I even started to think that no one listened to my show, therefore no one cared, therefore what the hell was the point?

Sometimes there is mud on the path, and you have to trudge through. It’s not pretty, and it’s not fun, but once you’re through, you’ll find why it was all worth it.

It only took one story to bring me back in. One story. One night in the studio reading my story. The fire burned bright again.

I know now there are bumps on my road, and though I do not know where I am headed, I remember there was a beautiful reason I sat down to write in the first place. I remember there was a hint of euphoria, even if sometimes it’s hard to remember how it felt like. If anything, that gives me more reason to try and try, so I can feel it all over again.

So if you’ve fallen, my dear friend, I ask you to stand and to keep going. And if there is a portal in your path, one that leads to a place you can’t even guess, then jump in. There’s something magical through that portal waiting for you, as it did for me.

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