Epiphany at the American Writers Museum

Say Chicago and most people think about The Bean in the Millennium Park. Or the architecture tour, or the Sky Deck.

They’re all great, for sure. But there’s so much more to Chicago than that. So much that never makes it to the tourism blogs or brochures.

Like the homeless people who stay by the Magnificent Mile. Or the tea shop near the Millennium Park that has over 150 flavours (David’s Tea, I learnt later, is a popular brand with stores across the US). Or the writers museum.

Yes. Chicago is home to the American Writers Museum.

I hadn’t heard of it anywhere. No one insisted that I visit it. And I wouldn’t have known of its existence if I hadn’t stumbled upon it while wandering the streets looking for nothing in particular.

As soon as I saw it, though, I knew I had to go in. Although I’m always wary of unreasonable entrance charges in museums, this time I didn’t care.

As I entered the hallway, a long wave of American history hit me. I spent over two hours walking through aisles of portraits and photos that enacted the lives of authors who made American literature great in the first place.

Looking at them, I realised making a living by writing isn’t easy. It’s not all fine and dandy, and life will not be as kind as we want it to be.

So many writers survived backlashes, self-doubt, and discouragement before creating anything worthwhile. And it made me appreciate them even more than I ever did.

Seeing their books, quotes, and anecdotes made me understand that writing isn’t just about putting words on a paper. Writing is about reflecting the world. Sometimes it’s the real world, and sometimes it’s an imaginary one. Either way, writing brings to life, life as we don’t know it. It depicts both the good and the bad around us. And that’s when it hit me: a writer has the power to create history.

Inside of a writer’s mind lies an entire generation’s perspective of the world. If that’s not power, I don’t know what else is.

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