It's Fall Recess, so out of slight laziness, I've decided this week to present two personal essays. There are a couple other places online where you can find these, but hey. Blogging! So the first is called "Why I Write." It was originally written my senior year.
Why do I write? That's like asking why I breathe.
I can't name a time words didn't fascinate me. Even before I knew real words, I chattered nonstop at my parents. Being heard and understood mattered to me. I loved the power that words gave me to think and communicate. It was cute until my little brother showed up, of course. Then I had to start quieting down. That was when I got into reading.... or, well, being read to.
My favorite book then was One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss, who is, of course, a genius with language. I also enjoyed a National Geographic article about tarantulas, for some reason. I consumed information like my youngest brother consumes noodles. Being able to access information I didn't know before through the simple pages of a book seemed miraculous to me. (Today, I love the Internet and social media for the same reason!)
Though I first learned to read at a pretty average age, in kindergarten, my skill level made an incredible jump--and it never stopped jumping. I still remember that moment. We'd been learning all the typical phonics painstakingly slowly Then one day, at home, as I paged through Clifford's ABCs, everything suddenly clicked in my mind. That, the picture of the armadillo, meant the same thing as the word next to it! Armadillo!
Yes. The first word I ever properly read was "armadillo".
After that, I could read almost all the words in the book, just like magic. An entirely new world had opened up to me. I went to kindergarten the next day full of pride. Every morning, Mrs. Blackman wrote a letter to the class on the board and asked us to try reading a sentence each. When she asked for volunteers that morning, my hand hit the air. She called on a different girl first. The girl read, very slowly, stumbling across her words. Then Mrs. Blackman chose me. I read the next sentence quickly, easily.
Mrs. Blackman paused with a strange expression on her face. "Can you read... more?" she asked.
"I can read all of it," I said confidently.
I will never, in my whole life, forget the look on Mrs. Blackman and the aide's faces when I finished the letter. I beamed at them, certain I had done something amazing.
From then on, I read voraciously. Within a year, I stopped asking for bedtime stories because I could read faster than my mother. Book after book, fiction and nonfiction, flowed into my brain. I learned about every topic I could. As a precocious book lover, I excelled in school. I loved every subject, but writing and reading came the most easily
At the end of the year In 1st grade, we were each allowed to pick any subject to do a massive project on. My mother and I decided to do a writing portfolio. It ultimately included a few different kinds of poems, a short story, two picture books that I donated to my brother's preschool, and some of my early diary writing. I enjoyed all the creative thinking and expression, but the moment I remember best is when I was allowed to present my books to the preschool class. I read them aloud, and as all those rapt little faces gazed up at me, I knew that this was what I was meant to be doing. This was how I would make people happy and make a difference in the world. I would write stories. I would share my thoughts with everyone.
So I continued to write in my diary. I did some little prompts; I drew a lot. I wrote some short stories and poems. After a traumatic episode of melissophobia occurred at the beginning of fourth grade, I decided that I wanted to write a full-on novel, something with a copyright page and a cover that I would someday see on my favorite shelf of the library. I needed that chance for greater expression.
I wanted the real deal.
My first few attempts fell short. I made it my goal to someday reach 100 pages, which I thought at the time would count as a full novel. I tried. I failed. I tried. I failed.
I finished my first "full-length" novel, #DragonStory, in sixth grade. The MG epic fantasy plot was based off of an imaginary game my friends and I had been playing at recess. (Imaginary play was another area in which I thrived as a child, and my friends and I continued acting out our own original stories all the way up until high school.) I deleted the entire thing after a fight between my friends, then immediately finished my second novel. Unlike the first book, #IceEnchantressStory was entirely my own creation, and I had no interest in erasing it.
Around that time, my Gifted and Talented class split into interest groups to be mentored by community adults on personal projects. I and another girl who loved to write were given time with a local book publicist who taught us about publishing process. She saw me as impatient and unmanageable, but extremely gifted. As soon as the school year ended, I set to work querying big publishers. I wanted my book to be published as soon as it possibly could be.
Many more novels followed, along with poems, songs, and diary entries. I received rejection after rejection for my books, but some of my smaller pieces received rewards or were published, and I soon joined an online writing group where I made some of the best friends I still have today. Their support, and the support of other friends and family, has been essential in my development as a writer.
As of today, six-and-a-half years later, I have written sixteen novels, many more short pieces, and over fifty-six notebooks of diary entries. I have received seventy-nine rejections from publishers and literary agents.
Why do I write?
If I didn't write, I wouldn't be me anymore. I write so that I can understand myself, so that I can see the truth, so that I can reach something beyond me in this great universe..
Someday, I will publish so that others can do the same.
Thanks for reading! Don't be afraid to give me post suggestions. I might have a lot of ideas right now, but you can never have too many, and I'd love to have you weigh in.
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Images via Tomfreidel on Wikipedia, my own files, and wokandapix on Pixabay.
*A quick happy birthday to my brother!*
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