Or, knowing you want to write from a young age

Yesterday, I went and saw Aimee Nezhukumatathil speak at my college, and she told a story about reading a prose poem that changed her life, and helped her decide she wanted to be an English major, not a Chemistry major, in her junior year of college.

Something about these kinds of stories are inspiring, but inevitably alien to me. My decision to be a writer (or rather, my lack of decision) seems less miraculous and destined. I’ve been writing since I was very young, I’ve been an avid reader since before that. Something about the idea that I could have legitimately been anything else is off-putting. I realize that I’ve always wanted this, even when I thought I wanted something else. My favorite book, Inkheart is literally a fantasy about the power of words and stories. There was never a moment where I thought, “This is something I could do.” It was something that, for much of my earlier life, I simply did.

It started with the books. Legend has it that I began speaking in full sentences before I ever decided to walk. I remember reading several A Series of Unforunate Events in one day while my parents napped. I remember going to the library for all of the events, and reading as many books as I could. I loved it, I loved them. All I want to do with my writing is inspire people the way these texts inspired me. That’s where it began.

My first real story was about my cat, Selvester, being able to turn into an even bigger cat to protect me from unknown danger. It was a few pages long and on my father’s laptop.

I remember being in band class in middle school, and asking the guy next to me (who happened to be my crush) for details in my story. I’d always ask my friends to read my stories, I’d write bad poetry with cheesy rhymes about how difficult life was for me (probably an early indication that I was both dramatic and not mentally stable, but six years later here I am,s till the same) I didn’t focus as much as I should have.

My best friend and I actually wrote stories together, fanfictions of us and characters that we knew. Sometimes we would just act out stories, using our Littlest Pet Shop animals for the subjects of drama, and murder, and excitement.

Then came House of Insanity, and no, I don’t mean this blog’s URL. House of Insanity was like a mashup of every fantasy creature I could think of; werewolves and dragons and fairies and ghosts all co-existed on this property where there was a council led by a human, the main character’s father. This was my dream project. I inserted myself, until years after where I renamed the character Ever. I inserted my friends and family. I wrote romance, I wrote violence, I wrote tension. This book was everything I had ever wanted with a long, thought out plot. Except for I couldn’t figure out the why. Why did this ‘house of insanity’ place exist? Why did a human have such influence on creatures that could easily overthrow him? Who corrupted one of the other characters to create the dissent that would evolve into full out war on the premises? What creatures wouldn’t I include? And then, as I got older, my character started flirting with her best friend instead of the love interest.

I like to think that one day I would have figured it all out, until I gave my friend a thumbdrive with the file on it. She claims to have returned it, but it’s been lost forever. Part of me thinks that I could rewrite it, because I still remember most of the characters so clearly, but part of me is afraid. I am changed. Would I make it better, or worse? Would I try to make the story so logical as to kill the interest? I gave it up, and tried to move on.

Then things got complicated. I wrote all the time, but with less content. I couldn’t string enough thoughts together with school, and then marching band, and then relationships. I wasn’t spending enough time alone at home, I had too much else to do. It became an excuse not to write, as the paragraphs of ideas gathered as scrap paper in my room. The longer I let them sit, the more I felt out of touch, and it became very difficult to keep up.

NaNoWriMo has kept me on my feet these past few years. Even though I never finish a book, at least once a year I make a valiant attempt to write 50,000 words. It’s kept me working on my next project, but now that doesn’t seem like enough.

So I’m trying to do smaller things. Write a poem, write an article, write a short story. It’s hard. I feel so drained all the time from school, but that itch is always there. I always want to write. I always want to find the story inside of me. That hasn’t ever changed. There won’t be a moment when I realize, “Yes! I am a writer” and will pump out a bestselling novel. I don’t get that moment.

Instead I have lived with that desire, a steady fire in my heart that keeps me optimistic even during my dry spells. It’s what I’ve always done, I think to myself. It’s what I will always do.