Why am I a writer?

I can trace most of my interests back to some set period in my life, I’ve noticed.

I got interested in music through my little-girl hero worship of Hilary Duff, who got into the music business.  She inspired me to join choir, where I met a girl who became my best friend in middle school and high school.  She introduced me to all her favorite rock groups.  It was a god-send; I had found something I could instinctively love, without trying.

I got interested in art, politics, and coffee in college.  I took an art history class which basically taught me that I’ve always been an artist, and also that the Impressionists were surprisingly depressing and Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Picasso is a masterpiece of artwork.  Politics and coffee completely surrounded me from all sides; I’d have to have been a moron not to notice.

I got interested in comics as a little kid through the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime, which got me into manga, which introduced me to people who also knew comics.  Then the whole Marvel movie thing exploded, Nolan’s Dark Knight series came into existence, and the TV series Smallville happened, and… well… the rest is history.  My main love is manga and anime, though I do enjoy American comics as well.  I can’t help it – manga was my first comic love.

I gained my love of the social sciences through a high school psychology class I had to take.

But what about words?  They’re my great love; I need them to communicate.  I write for at least an hour every day.  Going without writing even for one day has left me feeling suicidal.  I’m a compulsive reader.  And before I check up on a new piece of music, I always look up the lyrics first.  Always.

Why the great love affair with words?  I’ve always had them.  Before I can remember, I’ve always had words to write down.  It was my earliest instinct, earlier than music or art or politics or social science or comics.  Words, books, writing – they were always my go to.

Why?

I guess if I had to psychoanalyze myself, this would be my answer.

I was bullied very early on in life, preschool, kindergarten.  Some of my earliest memories are of being bullied, excluded, and alienated in cruel ways.  I reacted by retreating inward and becoming an extremely shy, timid child.  Introverted in the first place, I became a super-introvert, with a vivid inner world and no way to communicate it.

I didn’t have any way to express myself, and I didn’t like school and I was very unhappy, until I was switched to a tiny little alternative learning school – it was on the Montessori system – where I had a teacher who taught me how to love reading and writing.

She allowed us to sit wherever we wanted, at tables or outside or wherever, she incorporated all learning styles into her curriculum, and she sat on our level to teach us in tiny three- to four-person groups.  We were each given a packet of work at the beginning of the week, and as long as we used the classroom resources (which was where the learning styles came into play) to complete it correctly by the end of the week, we passed.

This teacher was great.  She also made sure we had journaling time, complete with prompts, every day, and she would sit down with me and go through picture books with me to make sure I understood all the words.

It wasn’t just her.  My mother and both of my grandmothers all pushed very hard for me to enjoy reading.  They would buy me books and read through them with me, trying to encourage a love affair with words.  The first books I ever read on my own were the Harry Potter books, and they completely transformed the way I interacted with and loved literature.

Something worked.  Almost from the time I can remember, I have been a reader and writer.  My grades shot up and went through the roof.  It was a life changing series of events.  I wouldn’t have become the person I am if they hadn’t happened.

See, I wasn’t good at expressing myself outwardly, but do you know what my favorite writers and teachers taught me?  They taught me that what you express outwardly doesn’t have to be the best part of you.  That sometimes it was okay to express yourself better in writing.

By the time I was seven or eight, when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I gave them two answers: Veterinarian, because I loved animals.  And author, because I loved writing and books.

In middle school, my writing became even more important.  I went through some pretty horrible stuff as a teenager, even from an objective adult standpoint, things like bullying, grief and loss, and the first stirrings of bipolar disorder.  And the only way I knew how to express myself was by writing things down.  My notebooks became covered in doodles, pieces of poetry, and song lyrics, and I began writing every day.  I was the stereotypical messy-haired girl with the jeans, the notebooks covered in song lyrics, and the book always in her backpack.  Fanfiction was a way for me to give back to what I was reading, and once I got my own computer and found the Internet (at about twelve years old) that became even easier.

Writing became my way of communicating with the world.

I have so many memories as a kid of just the wonders of a blank piece of paper – how exciting, how beautiful it was.  I would write anything down: random idle thoughts, stories and poems, I would studiously copy down song lyrics for hours without once getting tired.  I wrote hunched over a table in the day-time, curled around my night light at night, and over a laptop computer on my bed once I got my own computer.

I was very under confident as a kid, and I had this best friend as a teenager who always seemed super confident.  And I remember her telling me once, years after the fact, to my total surprise, that she had always envied me – she wished she had as much passion for an art as I have for my writing.

I guess I’ve always been a writer.  But if it hadn’t been for my family, if it hadn’t been for my elementary school teachers, if it hadn’t been for the books I read and the music I listened to, I might never have become a writer.

So this is to all of you out there: The elementary school teachers who wonder if they matter, the parents who read to their kids at night but despair of their kids ever paying attention, the authors and songwriters with literally no goddamn clue how much they mean to people – thank you.

My entire life is a great dedication to you.  My entire life is me trying to give back what you gifted me.

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