Being a writer is continually digging for gold.


When I was 9, I had lived in Casablanca for two years. The Hassan II Mosque was being revamped and I had started a collection of tiny zellige tiles that I would uncover from the dusty piles of rubbish and store in a little wooden box. Zellige tiles were little gems to me, you see, so I gathered pieces of a deconstructed puzzle and reconstructed a puzzle of my own. Jade green, Cobalt blue, Teal… the shades were endless. I was nine, and I wanted to be an artist.

I thought I had to persevere and keep filtering my interests, like filtering gold in a pan full of gravel, shaking it in a left to right motion until the gold, heavier, sinks to the bottom.

At the age of 12, after a lot of sifting, I found gold. My first poem was getting published in the school’s journal. I was ecstatic. My own words – there they were, in black and white. My name was signed at the bottom too; how overwhelming! This was the time when everything in my life had to rhyme. Palm trees were swaying, children were playing… Poetry in English does not suit me. So there I was, ready for life. I wanted to be a poet. Baudelaire, Verlaine, Hugo, they were to me what a compass is to a sailing boat. I was ready.

Then I turned 15. This was an important year, dominated by one event which I had 9 months to prepare for. 114, Boulevard Malesherbes, Paris.  Ecole Normale de Musique Alfred Cortot. June 26th, 2005. I was a pianist. This was my first important exam, so important I had to travel to Paris and play in front of a jury of four very stern pianists and professors, in an otherwise empty, resonating concert hall.  June 26 came as fast as a dust storm arises. I was not ready. When is one ever ready? As I walked in, the concert hall was silent. Later, I watched my anxious self walk towards the Steinway and Sons on the shaky footage that my mum had taken from the balcony seats. The verdict was announced a week later. I had passed. And in this moment of elation, I realised I had found gold again. I wanted to be a pianist.

My life was becoming a gold mine and all I had to do was dig. Like a hopeful, fervent treasure hunter, I was on a quest.

Nothing could stop me; there are so many things a Man can do, why stop there? I suspected the next clue would reveal itself when the time came to choose a degree. Following a succession of events, long arguments with my remarkable yet stubborn grand-mother, everlasting and exhausting monologues, a decision was made. I wanted be an Interior Architect. And so, I packed a suitcase (or two) and off to Brighton I was. England welcomed me following every cliché in the book – ten minutes in, I was drenched. I dried myself, settled in, and the hard work to shape my career began.

Three years. Countless all-nighters. An obscene amount of caffeine. Wonderful friends. Let’s be honest, a few house parties. Weekly rides along the seafront. An average of a three hundred pictures of the Burnt Pier. A few gigabytes of work lost due to software crashes. A graduation cap thrown in the air on a sunny 23 July 2012.

I was now a graduate trying to put a name on what I wanted to be. A musician? A writer? An architect? A calligrapher? Who would have thought that so many passions could lead to so much hassle and confusion? Why was it happening? Because we are pressured. We have to choose. Choose a Masters. Choose an internship. Choose a company. I soon realised it was not going to be easy for me. I did not want to choose, I wanted it all.

Today, after a three-year, post-graduation state of confusion, I am finally realising I do not have to choose. I can be everything I want to be. No more sacrifices. No more agonizing over empty words like career and path. Today, I realise that being a writer embodies everything that I am.

Being a writer is also being a designer, a researcher, a philosopher, a treasure hunter, a calligrapher, a musician, a sculptor, an explorer, a collector of thoughts.

Being a writer is continually digging for gold. It is an unrelenting search for a complex version of yourself. A thrilling collaboration with the world.

This is an old post I published almost a year ago but it was not read by many at the time. I have now updated it, especially the end, and am posting it again because I have had an epiphany and because I have so many other things to tell you that I have to start somewhere… 

Thanks for reading.
Hop on my Facebook and Twitter caravans.

26 responses to “Being a writer is continually digging for gold.

  1. Elissaveta, I was scrolling down through your very aesthetically pleasing site, when these sentences in bold really caught my eye.
    This is exactly the dilemma I’m facing at the moment!… I really don’t know which passion of mine I want to follow.

    In this post, you jump from “I did not want to choose, I wanted it all.”
    “And here I am today, patiently establishing and developing each and every aspect of my creative world, slowly realising I was wrong”

    …What happened in that time? What was that primary push from your career anxieties then towards what you are doing today?

    I don’t expect an autobiography of wisdom in response, just a sentence or two if you have the time.


    • Hi Camillae, what a beautiful name… Thanks for taking the time to read this very long post, I promise to answer your question tomorrow… It’s actually a very good one that I’ll need to mull over. I’d love to hear more about your passions, I’ll make sure I visit your blog to find out more (this sounds a bit stalk-ish but it’s only curiosity, I promise!)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Camilla,

    I have to admit your question struck a chord; I was at work today and spent most of trying to find out what really happened to justify this change.
    You asked for a sentence or two but you will soon find out I struggle with short thoughts so apologies if this drags a bit…

    Firstly, the “I was wrong” refers to a sentence much earlier in the post – “being an artist is vague” and by realising I was wrong, I realised I had spent the last couple of years torturing myself to pick something, putting so much pressure on myself to make the right decision. If there really has to be a push from my career anxieties, I think it was my obstinacy to not give up a single one of my passions.

    I tried until I realised it was making me unhappy and yes, I did want it all. Except when you really focus on the way certain things make you feel, you start to understand your priorities. I love painting on glass, but not as much as I love playing the piano. I love designing houses but not as much as I love writing stories, etc…
    I believe that as a human being, we should be complex. There should be more to us than one passion and although sometimes I feel scattered and a little lost, when I actually think it through, I’m glad I’m passionate about so many things.

    Okay, this did turn into an autobiography of wisdom, sorry…
    One last thing, my mum always told me I have to have a plan B. Well, having tried all of them out, today I’m at a point where I know I want writing to be plan A and architecture to be plan B. But I wouldn’t have known had I not followed all of them for long enough to see for myself.
    Phew, I’m going to stop here… But I’d love to read about your conflict and hope this long monologue was at least a little helpful for you…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: The art of Moroccan zellige. #MoroccanFridays | A Writer's Caravan·

  4. Ellie, this is so beautiful! I drank in this post, soaked in the inspiration, openness and hope your words radiate. I want to do so many things…. sometimes I’m hard on myself for wanting it all, but your post is like a permission slip :D thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, I am so so happy you were inspired by this post. And it is definitely a permission slip!! Why limit ourselves when most amazing things come from us being open to the world and trying new things?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ellie, what a wonderful post. There is no need to change. It is all related. It is all the same. Art. From the moment I e-met you, you may recall I was inspired by your glass work, writing, and piano playing. You are the consummate artist, skilled in many disciplines. I am curious to one day learn of your architectural work because, as I once said to you, it is the noblest of all work requiring sensitivities in many disciplines.


  6. This post is so recognizable for me. O yes, I did and do want it all and I also realized that is OK. My newest dilemma is finding a good balance, so I can fulfill all my passions ;-)
    And there is that curiosity of mine. It kills the cat is the saying, but I just can’t help finding so many topics so interesting. I (have a) need to learn, to know and it’s so easy to forget that the road to the goal is as important as the goal it self.Writing helps me to prioritize, now I just need to learn to focus more, so I won’t deviate to much, since I can’t do everything at once.
    Anyway, what I really want to let you know; this post is everything to me, as it is for Gulara. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patty, it makes me so happy to know this post resonated with so many people. It’s great to know I’m not the only one, curious, greedy and always eager for more.
      Thank you so much for your comment. Really!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Elissaveta, Follow your Passions, all of them. I think that too much focus is put on trying to choose between them but isn’t it wonderful if we take time out to just enjoy it all. Probably before making our next choice…. Revisiting the passions whenever you need them helps that decision I find.


    • Too much focus can be dangerous but is also required at times. As it is with everything, a good balance is crucial! Thank you so much for your encouragement, this post really was cathartic.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Elissaveta, this is very true. I am so glad you posted. The idea of “choosing”a career has probably stifled more brilliant people than we can count. It usually takes a long time to get to this epiphany, or at least to come into oneself enough to truly embrace it.


  9. I can feel your passion in this post and in all the responses it inspired. You write so beautifully – nothing laboured and no excessive detail. (A lesson for me: I want to say everything!) I’m seventy + and although I’ve had many things (maybe not all) mostly it was accidental and a gift from outside, rather than an inspired path. I followed a slightly erratic but not dramatically diverse career path, and I’ve always been a bit timid about taking the bull by the horns.

    Your posts always make me think, and articulate in response.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow I’m so glad my posts make you think. I don’t know if there is such a thing as an inspired path… A lot of what has happened to me has been a
      “gift from outside” as you say so beautifully. And accidental, lucky encounters. I like to think I have taken the bull by the horns on a few occasions though, yes. Such an empowering feeling than to take the lead!


  10. I love those moments of clarity! I remember my latest epiphany which happened last summer. I am really in need of one right now, but I think I’m building towards one. Your writing is so beautiful. I’m really looking forward to reading what comes next.


    • Sometimes you can just feel it, the epiphany, right around the corner. It’s quite a sweet moment of anticipation and I really hope you get to that corner ASAP! Because… well, clarity is fulfilling.

      Liked by 1 person

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