When you are inspired by some great purpose,
some extraordinary project,
all your thoughts break their bonds;
your mind transcends limitations,
your consciousness expands in every direction,
and you find yourself in a new, great
and wonderful world.
Dormant forces, faculties and talents
become alive, and you discover yourself
to be a greater person by far
than you ever dreamed yourself to be.
                —
Patanjali
 
I was the star reporter for the “Class Bulletin.”It was a twice-weekly publication, a small newspaper that reported on everything from sports, to gossip, to entertainment, even academics. The most popular feature was a contest to pick the Academy Award winners in the major categories. The winner got a paid lifetime subscription to the Class Bulletin.

The job sounded interesting so I took it. I didn’t do it for any other reason. The pay was minimal, but I shared the profits with ownership. The newspaper was enormously successful, quickly achieving 90% subscription circulation in its market.

I had never written for a large audience or for a small one either, for that matter. But I enjoyed the job and people told me they liked the articles I wrote. Their praise made me feel good. I liked that. I discovered that writing gave me a good feeling. I wanted to write more. I thought I could get better at it.

The readers wanted me to write all the time. I liked that, too. For a while.

But then the paper was expecting me to write more often. It was hard for me always to think of what to write. I put it off because I could not get started. Or I would not start because I imagined it would not come out just right. I made obstacles.

I began to procrastinate. Soon I stopped doing it altogether. The newspaper went out of business. It lost its star reporter.

The winner of the Academy Award contest, the one with the paid

lifetime subscription, felt cheated. I guess he was.After that, I never stopped thinking about writing. It stayed with me. But when I thought about it in any serious way, I convinced myself I would not do it well. And if I couldn’t do it well, I wasn’t going to do it at all. So I didn’t finish much. I started even less.

One day, I was writing something about a significant event in the life of one of my children. I meant it to be a keepsake. I was highly motivated by the sentiment and the occasion and I found I was making an extraordinary effort to ensure it conveyed the essence and all the emotion of what I was feeling.

I wrote it and then I re-wrote it. I re-wrote it several more times over a couple of weeks. It got better. The better I made it, the more I wanted to make it better. I didn’t put it down until I had it just right. Really right.

When I finished, I felt a sense of satisfaction I hadn’t known before. I was tremendously fulfilled; the kind of fulfillment that you feel after you do something pretty cool and you stay warm inside for a long time even if a lot of other things around you aren’t working out so well.

I came a long way. The Class Bulletin, the fifth-grade newspaper I published, edited, wrote and sold for two-cents, started the spark that stayed an ember all these years.