I spent my childhood listening to my dad’s copy of the Pippin Original Cast Recording on vinyl.
For my first summer camp solo, I chose ‘Corner of the Sky’.
[They had to order in the sheet music. No other kid had demanded Pippin before.]:
Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free
Gotta find my corner of the sky
As a kid of the early 2000s, I was just a dial-up internet connection and a click away from a sort-of sky: the World Wide Web. I got to connect with people who had carved out their own corners of it. I was so grateful for their presence.
I thought, I want to claim a piece of this sky too.
And I did – I built many webpages and posted many things before I ever considered starting an online business.
Fast forward to 2012, when I made the daring decision to start a personal project on top of the most intense year of my degree at Oxford. I founded a website that would become Heroine Training. Every day, I figured out what I had to say, and when it was ready, I clicked Publish.
As a writer, I get most of my satisfaction from that moment – when all the words are in just the right places.
My fingers lift from the keyboard, and like printing out my academic essays – it’s done.
That’s the rewarding part for me. But what I’m asked about most often is the part that comes just afterwards:
What if no one reads it? What if I’m writing into the void?
It’s taken me a while to compose a response, because I’ve never really worried about that. Instead of wondering how people will arrive, I focus on giving them reason to stay.
So here’s my advice:
Create the thing. Make it exactly what you want it to be. Find validation in the thing itself. It is your art.
Create the thing first, and keep creating.
If you let yourself be yourself, you can channel your unique magic. You can be a world builder. If you fear writing into the void, don’t. Love the void.
As Pippin learns, it’s not about finding your corner of the sky. It’s about claiming it for yourself.
The void is your limitless sky – create your corner of it. The void is the Rabbit Hole through which your Alices must tumble to discover the Wonderland you are building.
Often, the most delightful discoveries make unplanned entrances.
Your magical corner shop may exist diagonally to the busiest streets of London. Just beyond the noise of the rest is you. The first step is to make sure that what you create isn’t just more noise.
It won’t truly be yours if you emulate others or follow a formula. No one else can orchestrate it for you.
My aim for Heroine Training has been a Dumbledorist one: to stay open for that one pupil.
Rather than worry about how many eyes I can get on my work, I create a lovely Rabbit Hole-full of treasures. That if the right person happens to stumble upon it, they will be welcomed, and curious by what is here.
By creating the thing – every day – I focus not on who will see it, but what they will enjoy when they do.
All I can do is write for me, and if it’s true for me, it might be for you too.
So write into the void. Decide what to say, and write it. Someday, when someone asks you a question, you can say, ‘Actually, I wrote about that. Here it is’, and invite them to hang out in your corner of the sky. The quality of your creation will spread whispers.
Write what you want to read. If you need it, someone else will too. If you write for yourself, one day, someone like you will show up.
Until the next chapter,
P.S. Have you heard? I’m an Essayist.