I don’t usually post about my writing journey. Either, I’m not sure it’s something others would find interesting, or I doubt anyone else would find it as entertaining as I do. However, with that being said, I broke my silence today because I wanted to write about it for no one, except myself.
Simple as that.
I started writing in elementary school. In fourth grade, our school announced a writing contest, a short story format in the fantasy genre. This was something I had always loved, but it wasn’t until later that I realized my style had deeper roots on the darker edge of the fantasy realm.
As soon as the announcement came over the intercom, I knew which story I wanted to write. For years now, my grandpa had told me scary stories before bed to help me sleep (oh, the irony!). My favorite of these was the tale of the haunted room at the college where my aunt had gone to med school. At night, the anatomical skeleton would come to life and attack the students. The chill that had shivered down my spine when I heard about the clawed fingers raking at the students stayed with me even today.
It wasn’t technically my story to write, but at that age it’s hard to know better. For a week, I wrote till my fingers cramped. I spent every waking moment after school and even the morning of finishing my story. I was so excited and knew they would love my story as much as I did.
Almost two weeks later, the winners were announced, however I didn’t hear my name mentioned at all. My heart sank. As innocence is bliss, my first concern manifested as:
“Maybe it got lost?” and “Did they not read every entry?”
After school that day, I hurried from the classroom, pushing through the crowd of eager kids, all ready to leave, but me. I wanted to know what happened. Whether I knew it at the time or not, I desperately needed any ounce of feedback they could give me.
I peeked into the main office and spied the head receptionist at her desk. She sat typing away on her computer and hadn’t heard the door open. I slipped inside and shut it behind me before scurrying over.
She glanced up at me over dark framed glasses and asked, “Can I help you?”
“The story contest, who read them? I’m worried mine got lost from the rest.”
“I helped read them. Let me check the stack. What was it called?” She pulled open a large filing cabinet drawer underneath her desk.
“The Skeleton Nightmare.”
“Oh.” She glanced back at me. “I remember that one. It didn’t win because it wasn’t fantasy. Sorry.” She closed it again and continued typing.
I stood dumbfounded, still processing what she had said. My shoulders twitched as I fought back my initial reaction and wiped at my eyes. “How is it not fantasy if the skeleton comes to life?”
She glanced at me, but I left before she could answer.
Needless to say, years later I found it ironic that she remembered my story, yet it didn’t win due to a technicality. I realize now that it was probably more kid’s horror than fantasy. But, it’s okay. Being an avid reader of R.L. Stine at the time, I can see why it had been influenced as such.
A few more years went by and I discovered the mystical world of Anime. My friends and I had movie parties all through middle school where we would watch and pretend to play out favorite scenes from the Japanese cartoons. I also discovered fan fiction and dove in head first and filling multiple spirals with pages of adventure and cute romance. I had a few friends who asked to read some of my stories and loved them, begging for more.
And again, my desire to become a writer flourished and I poured out page after page like a waterfall of angsty teen emotions and inexperience. I still have one of those stories and when I want to see just how far I’ve come, I read it, but I usually can’t get passed the first page anymore without shuddering.
It wasn’t until college that I considered writing as a career, as a part of who I am. My other passion, drawing, had taken over most of high school. Though I spent most of that time trying quite a few of my interests. I had joined swim team for a year, tried the medical route, and even had some fun with the Academic Decathlon team for a couple years.
It was all nice, but none of it really had that spark of need. That feeling you have when you’re doing that one thing, even if it’s inconvenient, even if it’s the wrong time or place, or even if it’s bizarre to everyone else around you. It’s still apart of you and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Within my first year at UNT, I had switched from an art major into a creative writing major. Everything seemed to click then. I had lots of positive feedback from the student critique groups and teachers. Being the hard-headed individual that I am, I tended to pack a lot onto my plate as a student. That and ever since I read the Robert Frost poem, I had lived and breathed its meaning and thus, thrived when taking the road less traveled.
So, I tried writing in first person and even second person point of view (which is bizarre and my hat’s off to anyone who can pull it off), but I settled with third person and the more comfortable to my own writing style. I enjoyed each new writing challenge and just knew I’d be the next J.K. Rowling within a year of graduating. (Obviously, that didn’t go as planned as it’s been more than a few years since then.)
So now, here I sit, typing away on a laptop and drinking tea, while singing Itsy-Bitsy Spider with my two-year-old next to me. Things haven’t gone as expected, but they aren’t bad. If there is one thing I have going for me, it’s that I never give up, even if all appears lost or when everyone else as gone home, I’m still here. Why?
Because of that feeling you have when you are doing that one thing, even if it’s inconvenient, even if it’s the wrong time or place, or even if it’s bizarre to everyone else around you. It’s that golden piece of the puzzle that makes you who you are.
So, I’ll continue on writing and being me every step of the way.