Chasing Dreams: The Passion of Writing by Francisco Stork

Chasing Dreams logo

Chasing Dreams is a feature about pursuing a career path that you’re passionate about and going after your dream job.

To those who missed the introduction post for this new blog feature called Chasing Dreams, click here to check it out. For the first ever guest post for Chasing Dreams, I asked my good friend Francisco Stork to write about his own experience. I’ve gotten to know Francisco through email exchanges and during one of our conversations, we talked about how he writes on the side and has a day job as a lawyer. I was immediately curious about this set-up and I asked him what’s it like for him. For his guest post, I sent him this question:

How did you discover that writing was your passion and how did you actively pursue that career path?

Without further ado, please welcome Francisco Stork!

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Francisco Stork

Francisco’s photo from his website

I’ve been thinking about your question for a while now. I think the word “passion” threw me off. Is writing my passion? These days we tend to lift the word “passion” from the context of romantic love where it often means a kind of absorbing, exploding obsession, and apply it to other aspects of life. I’ve heard the word used with respect to golf, the stock market and rock climbing. But writing doesn’t quite feel like this kind of passion to me. There is another meaning to the word “passion” that is not much in use these days: suffering. Writing often resembles that kind of passion.

More than a passion, I like to think of my writing as a vocation – something that I am called to do. Whether you believe in a “caller” who is doing the calling or not, a vocation is, as one author said, the place where the gladness in your heart meets the world’s great need. Vocation happens when you discover your talent, something you are good at, and you find a way to make the world a little better place through the use of the talent.

I’m not exactly sure when I got the idea that I wanted to be a writer. Maybe it was when I was eight years old after I finished reading my first book and said I was going to write one too and my father gave me a typewriter. But there’s a difference between wanting to be a writer and wanting to write. I didn’t want to write until I was fifteen years old and I started keeping a daily journal. It was around that time that I first suffered an episode of depression and writing was the one thing that helped. I put everything in these journals: poems, thoughts, stories, rants of love and despair. I didn’t think too much about what or how I was writing. I simply wrote and the writing became a habit, the training ground that allowed me to write and publish a novel thirty or so years later.

I went to college and then to graduate school hoping to be a writer. But graduate school wanted scholars who wrote about an obscure area of literature that no one knew anything about, and that was not the kind of writing I wanted to do. So I went to law school thinking that I could practice law and write on the side. But the legal jobs I worked in were so demanding and time-consuming there was no time to write or even read books that were not legal books.

The Way of the JaguarI was about forty-five years old when I discovered that ignoring the call to be who you are meant to be will eventually lead to very devastating and painful personal results. If you don’t exercise a talent given to you, the energy behind that talent will explode in addictions or depression or in physical illness or in countless other painful ways. So, I took it upon myself to turn my daily habit of journal writing into the writing of a novel. I woke up at 4:00 A.M. and wrote for two hours before going to my legal job. After a year or so I had a draft that I sent out and after five years later after many rejections and many revisions later I found someone willing to publish it.

I am sixty now and my sixth novel will be published next year. I’ve written all my novels while working as a lawyer for a state agency that builds homes for low-income persons. I was fortunate enough to find a legal job that is less demanding and less stressful than those early jobs I took right out of law school. But it is still hard to find enough mental and emotional energy to do both the legal work and the creative work. I find a way to do it by realizing that it is a slow process that requires patience and persistence and lots of kindness to myself. I write because I’m somewhat good at it and the world needs us to do the things we’re good at.

But I don’t want to leave you with the impression that writing does not share any of the enthusiasm and fun that is associated with passion. There’s a joy that I find in writing that is deep and meaningful, a joy that, strange as this may sound, doesn’t always feel good, but is always worth having. If you ever find yourself doing the right thing, no matter how hard it is, you’ll know the joy I’m talking about.

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“The place where the gladness in your heart meets the world’s great need” is such a nice lovely way of describing vocation. Thank you, Francisco, for that beautiful post. It is truly inspiring how you managed to find your vocation. I would love to discover mine as well because it would be good to find fulfillment in doing something that I feel like the world needs me to do.

Book Haul: MNL to SIN Stash Part 4

Happy Labor Day, everyone! May 1 is a holiday both in Manila and Singapore. I took advantage of that fact, claimed two vacation days and flew to Manila for the weekend. I got back in Singapore this morning. I had a great time in Manila and I always feel like the time I spend there is never enough – I guess that’s usually the case when you only get to see friends and family once in a while. Anyway, I wanted to share with all of you the books that I’ve acquired the past few days.

Right before I left for my flight to Manila, I saw a package waiting for me in our mailbox. It contained a signed copy of Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork. My blogging buddy Holly is good friends with Francisco and through that connection, I’ve started exchanging emails with him some time ago. He is such a kind and amazing person that it comes as no surprise that I’ve enjoyed talking to him about random things, not just about books and writing. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I’ve never read any of his books. That’s going to change soon! I’ve heard nothing but good things about Marcelo in the Real World so I’m pretty excited to read it. I’d like to thank Francisco for being generous enough to send me a copy of it.

Marcelo_signed copy

During the weekend, I had dinner with a good friend and she mentioned that she hasn’t given me a gift for my birthday yet and that we should drop by Fully Booked so I can pick something. No arguments from my end!

Fully Booked Fort

My favorite branch of Fully Booked – several floors of bookish goodness.

She ended up getting How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr, a washi tape roll featuring sea creatures and plain old scotch tape for me. She couldn’t resist adding the scotch tape to the mix, saying that “it’s a classic” compared to washi tape.

Belated birthday gift_how to save a life

Now this isn’t book-related but most of you seem to enjoy seeing my washi tape rolls so I wanted to show these as well. I asked some of my friends to order washi tape rolls from Hey Kessy and Bee Happy Crafts and we had a washi swap (my friend made the washi-covered clips):

May 2013 Manila washi tape haul

More rolls to add to my collection! Which one is your favorite?

Pretty cute, aren’t they? When I have some free time, I’m going to try and make washi postcards. Moving back to books, I’ve noticed that lately, I’ve been reading more contemporary than fantasy novels so I grabbed these three titles from my own bookshelf to bring back with me to Singapore:

MNL to SIN May 2013

Rebel by R.J. Anderson
Arrow by R.J. Anderson
Elfland by Freda Warrington

I now have way too many unread books in my bookshelf here in the flat. Which is why I only grabbed three books from my bookshelf even though I could have fit more in my luggage. I found it a bit surprising that I didn’t end up buying books even though I visited several bookstores. But then again, I haven’t even read all of the books that I brought from my last trip home.

I got a book in Yosemite for my six-year-old godson and he liked it so much that he gave me a card to thank me:

Allen's card May 2013

When I got back to the flat, I also had a Hawaii postcard waiting for me:

Hawaii postcard - May 2013

What about you, got any interesting books, postcards or washi tape lately? 🙂 Hope you’re having a good week so far. The great thing about this week is I only have to go to the office for two days. By the way, I’m planning to change my blog header soon so watch out for that.