One of the questions I often get is:
When did you decide to be a writer?
I understand why people ask that question since it’s not a common thing that a person decides to write for a living; although there are more writers now than in any period of history, it’s still pretty much an occupation not chosen by many.
Usually, I would say:
I don’t know or I don’t remember. For me, it was something that I always wanted to do; as if I was born to write.
Now, I think that I might have a proper answer to this question.
I was born in Serbia (Yugoslavia actually), and people love guns there. Apart from killing each other with guns, they also like to celebrate by shooting (not blanks) in the air; New Year, Christmas and other religious celebrations, weddings, and childbirth.
During the ’90s, the era before internet and smartphones, children were collecting all sorts of things; stamps, napkins, Panini stickers and albums, coins; but in Serbia, my friends and I were collecting bullet cases.
We had all sorts of them, from revolvers, regular guns, automatic weapons, even tank gun bullet cases.
Somewhere during 1993, when I was 7 years old when I had just started my 1st grade of primary school, my uncle was serving his military duty; back then it was obligatory, especially due to the ongoing war.
While most of my classmates couldn’t read and write I was pretty much skilled at that; I learned to read and write somewhere at the age of 5 (except I didn’t know any punctuation rules).
I remember that one day, I came back home from school with an idea to write my uncle a letter, asking him to send me some bullet cases.
I took sheets of paper. On one, I drew a picture of my uncle wearing a uniform and holding a gun, and on the other one I wrote him a letter, explaining the prestigious game of bullet case collecting in my neighborhood, and I let him know how important it would be for me to have as many bullet cases as possible.
I gave the letter and the drawing to my mother and she put it in an envelope and sent it.
Later on, my uncle received the letter, showed it his commander and who let my uncle collect the bullet cases from the shooting practice ground.
Two weeks later, I’ve got a package with two bags filled with bullet cases. All of a sudden, I had the most bullet cases in the entire town and they were from the military, not some things you could just find at the wedding.
That, I think, was the moment when I realized the power of the written word and the story well-told; it can impact the person reading it; it can provoke the emotion from another person and it can make that person act upon something specific.
I used my first story ever written for a personal gain, and I’ve succeeded. Since then, whenever I wanted to influence someone or just make an announcement, or ask something, I would write; notes, letters, messages, e-mails.
Also, I’ve always had that urge to tell stories so that other people could feel the same emotions I felt when I heard them.
Writing wasn’t always as successful as the first time, but I kept doing it anyway. Even nowadays, I more frequently use a written word as a mean of communication than verbal and the reason I kept doing it is that its power has never diminished; it only got stronger.