On being a writer.

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I recently had someone ask what motivated me to write, and how I was able to write so much. I shrugged it off and said it’s something I like to do, but inside I kept thinking, how do you not write?

It’s hard for me to understand how someone can go throughout life without writing constantly. Even when I’m not putting fingers to keys, I’m constantly narrating the world around me. If you spent a day in my brain, it would sound like a more intricate, yet slightly more boring, episode of Gossip Girl. It’s how I process the world and make sense of both the things around me and the things in my mind. I don’t try to do it, it just happens. It would probably be a lot easier to not think so much, but I can never turn my brain off. Writing at least gives me a feeling of completion.

I couldn’t tell you the moment I started writing. I was one of those kids who constantly made up stories. I loved talking to inanimate objects. Everything had feelings – my dolls, my table, my carpet… everything came alive in my mind. Toy Story 2 ruined me. I already felt like my toys had feelings, and seeing Jesse abandoned by her owner reminded me of the dolls I stopped playing with. I always had a story line running though my head.

I didn’t always love to write. I remember my mom forced us to write every night in the summer and I absolutely hated it. She’d supply me with a beautiful diary and I’d reluctantly jot something bland down, unwilling to turn on my creative mind because I didn’t think it was fair to have to write during vacation.

There were times that I enjoyed writing in the diary. Specifically when I had something exciting to brag about or a secret I didn’t feel comfortable sharing. I tried to avoid gossiping about people because I didn’t like to hurt their feelings, so I’d write my little judgmental comments in my diary. This created a problem when my best friend found my diary and told everyone that I was writing mean things about my neighbor’s pajamas. I was crushed because I cared about my neighbor and felt awful for writing mean things about him when he didn’t deserve it. There’s a lot of drama in second grade.

As a writer herself, my mom always encouraged us to write. But it didn’t define me until I was in middle school. In sixth grade, I started writing poetry. 50 Cent’s “21 Questions” spoke to me and I wrote a poem that could have been sold on an artificially weathered piece of metal at a kitchy souvenir shop that would eventually hang in someone’s grandma’s hallway. It was titled “Why” and I pondered why terrorism happened and love was defined by diamond rings. It was cute and naïve and everything you’d expect a first poem to be. I wrote a few more over the next two years, but my poetry phase came after my dad died. I had a hard time talking about my feelings so putting them into a poem allowed me to express myself while still being fairly universally relatable. By writing about the emotion instead of the events, it gave me a release without having to replay the accident. I wrote hundreds of poems between 8th-12th grade.

I always found writing easy. In school, I never read the assigned books but could write an essay off of the handful of themes I found online. I always got away with it because I made it personal. I would pick some central idea then relate it to my life so it sparked the interest of my teachers while hiding the fact that I knew very little about the small details of the book. Autobiographical assignments were always easy for me because by the time I was assigned something, I had already told the story a few times in my own head. Now I just had to put it to paper.

When I was in college, I stopped writing poetry and instead started writing chapters of a book I had no real intention of completing. Whenever something significant happened, I’d write about it like I was writing an autobiography. I’d map out details and characters, or just get to writing the story off the bat. I have endless documents on my hard drive full of pages of an incomplete story, tidbits that I found interesting enough to jot down so I wouldn’t forget, and people that made some sort of impact on me.

After college, I started this blog. I didn’t necessarily seek out writing a blog. I was sick of seeing so many Though Catalog pieces on how much your early 20’s sucked and wanted to combat it with a piece about all the reasons I loved my early 20’s. I wasn’t motivated enough to look through submission processes so I created my own space to post it. After that post, I read another article someone wrote about grief and was inspired to add my two cents. It kind of just snowballed from there. I never cared much about who read what I had to say, rather it became a selfish discipline where I could process my thoughts and share my opinions. People seemed to enjoy reading it, so I kept it public. It also became a really easy way for my family to get to know what I was up to without having to tell them.

I never defined myself as a writer. I knew I didn’t have perfect grammar and that I didn’t go to some elite small liberal arts college in Vermont to hone my craft. I always stated that I wrote, but I thought of it as one aspect of my very creative mind. Now that I’m actually writing a book, for real this time, I find myself closer and closer each day to identifying as a writer. Hopefully by the time I finish my last page, I’ll be there.

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