(Shout out to everyone taking WordPress’s Writing 101 with me right now. I’m so excited to read everyone’s work!)
My love affair with writing was preceded by an infatuation with words. While riding the bus home from elementary school, I was often interrupted by perplexed children who incessantly asked,
“Why are you reading the dictionary?” I liked the words. I was fascinated with the myriad ways I could say something and I loved experimenting with my vocabulary.
In the 4th grade I came to a life-changing discovery while working on a group assignment. My group mates chose me to write the summary for a project we were working on because, as they emphatically repeated, “You’re SO good with words!” My initial reaction was that they were only saying this because they were all too lazy to write it themselves, but then I really thought about it and realized that since I actually did enjoy being flamboyant with my speech, I could probably have fun with writing as well. I remember trying to be as descriptive as possible with the assignment and really racking my brain to recall all of the words that I knew and deciding which ones would sound most impressive together. I wasn’t thrilled with the final product, but I remember thinking that I thoroughly enjoyed the process and that I wanted to keep playing around with this whole writing thing.
At the same time, I was feeling stymied as a performer. That’s sounds really odd to say because I was, what, 9 years old? But it was true. I’d done a little (VERY little) theater and on camera work, but I wasn’t exactly on track to becoming the next big child star. My mom would let me pursue performing opportunities here and there, but for the most part I was supposed to focus on academics. School came first. I loved film and TV so much, though, and all I really wanted to do was be involved in the entertainment industry. One day at the library (which was my favorite hang out spot) I was walking through the non-fiction section and came across some books on screenwriting. That discovery lead to me reading nearly every book in library about writing for film and TV. I took incredibly detailed notes and began writing my own screenplays. Once I learned about writing spec scripts for TV (sample scripts for existing shows that writers submit to be considered for work), I started creating very self-indulgent storylines on all of my favorite shows. I wrote parts for myself on EVERYHTING… I was adopted by Endora on Bewitched, I was Steve Urkel’s long lost sister and I was the mysterious new girl with a secret on Ghostwriter.
I wrote for hours a day. I wrote until my hands cramped and bruised. I wrote until my parents took my notebooks away because I was neglecting my chores or being too antisocial at get-togethers. In retrospect, I understand that my parents were just concerned about me turning into a hermit, but at the time I felt soooo persecuted and misunderstood… Bless my heart.
In middle school, I began journaling as well. It was a great outlet for me to discover and be my authentic self. I could talk about my attraction to girls without worrying about the news being spread around as the latest gossip… again. Sixth grade was a rough year.
I loved writing so much that in seventh grade, I begged my mom to let me be home schooled so that I’d have more time to write. “I could get a literary agent! I could be published! I could sell some of my scripts or get a staff writing job on a show,” I pleaded. I saw no value in going to school and socializing with my peers. I didn’t really feel like I fit in and I felt too awkward and homely to perform anymore, so keeping to myself and focusing on writing sounded like a fantastic idea. Sure I was 12, but I was ready for a career! Nobody agreed. School came first.
As I got to high school, the rigors of honors and AP classes prevented me from writing as much as I wanted to. I still had my flowery language, but I felt self conscious about not sounding like everyone else and eventually changed the way that I spoke. I still relished my writing assignments in English class, but that was the extent it. I fostered my creativity in other ways; I felt more confident about myself at that point, so I started performing again in school plays and eventually began auditioning and booking roles outside of school again. Nobody thought that I was old enough to be a writer, but at least I was able to do things as an actor. So I let writing go.
I irrationally put writing out of my mind as a career option because I couldn’t get any traction as a kid. In retrospect, it was foolish. If I’d waited a few years, I could have had quite the renaissance in college. For whatever reason, I associated writing with failure and left it alone.
This year I’ve started writing again. It’s still invigorating, but I’m rusty. The ideas don’t come as quickly and the words don’t flow as freely. It’s funny… as a child I wrote like it was my job and now I’m almost scared to revisit that part of myself. There’s nothing holding me back, but I still feel an invisible barrier pushing me from going forward. I’ve decided to fight it. I’m unhappy, I’m lost and I have nothing to lose, so why not? Regardless of what anyone else had to say about it, my beloved words were always there and they never failed me. Writing helped me get through some very tough times. Before I was able to give my depression a name, writing was my therapy. It made me happy. It kept me company. It let imagine myself in worlds that I had no access to. And once upon a time, I was good at it.
Why do I write? Because I used to love it and I loved who I was when I did it… and I can use all of the self-love that I can get right now.