This is a piece I wrote for my Creative Non-Fiction Class that I will be turning in on Friday (2/24/12). I really enjoyed writing this one.
I Am A Writer, Because…
The cool kids in high school were either the over achieving athletes or the theatre, journalist, yearbook type. I was none of these. Although I played basketball, I was mediocre at best, which as I look back at now, I apparently had no qualms with. I was the kid in the back of the class who always forgot my pencil, never cracked open a book, and during geometry class prayed to the math gods that my teacher, Mr. Mills, who was also the boys basketball coach, wouldn’t call me to the blackboard to work out a problem I’d not even looked at. What I was in high school was a dreamer.
I could quite easily use the old cliché that “I’ve always wanted to be a writer,” but in all honesty that’s not the case. Most days I just wanted to not be a high school student. Other days I wanted to be an actress living the high life in California, although I never once tried out for a high school play because of the simple fact that I hated getting up in front of people. I couldn’t even give a speech in class without the contents of my stomach threatening to escape if I so much as inched my ass from my chair. So I guess the question I ask myself is not how I became a writer, but when did I realize I was a writer. My high school years revealed much to me; some pleasant, some not. This is when I realized I was a writer.
Journals full of horrendous poetry and stories of smitten lovers were tucked under my mattress, hidden away from prying eyes and a cruel world. At the ripe old age of fifteen my knowledge of love and pain and the loss of love had been so great that my pen pressed to paper could do nothing more than release all the wisdom stored up within my mind and heart. Yet, those journals did not reveal the great unknown. They weren’t the gateway to a future of more writings, more knowledge brushing against blanks pages. They were merely the ship that carried me on the rocky sea and took the brunt of the storm that abused their sides.
Entering my parent’s bi-level home, I took the steps two at a time, eager to dump my backpack on my bedroom floor and snatch my most recently acquired journal from under the mattress, where it was sheltered from those who desired to know my darkest secrets. I slipped off my teal Members Only jacket, my single attempt at being one of the cool kids, and tossed it through the open closet door, watching it land on top of the mass of other clothes. I grabbed my favorite pen, the one that gave me an option of color choices from black to blue to red and green. I lifted my mattress slightly ready to write down what the voices all day commanded of me, and all the air that God had given me to sustain my life, jolted from my lungs. Gone! My journal, not quite full, but with enough information to tell the world what my mind kept from so many, was not where I’d left it before my feet took me from house to bus earlier that morning.
“Looking for this?” my mother’s voice slammed into the back of my head like the blunt force of a sledgehammer against concrete.
I didn’t need to turn around to know what she held in her hand, yet I did anyway. “That’s mine. I want it back.”
“Oh you can have it back. Just don’t know why you think you can write about this when you know nothing about love,” she said as she waved my most prized possession in the space between us. “Nice stories.”
She flung my journal across the room and I watched it take flight as the red covers that guarded my words, spread like wings and soared into my waiting arms. My cheeks flushed and anger burned in my throat as all the words I wished to use to lash out at her with fell heavy on my tongue. Before another word could be spoken, she turned on her heels and sauntered from my room. A quick dash to the door and I closed it, locking her and everyone out. I lowered myself to the floor, the green lush carpet welcoming me like an old friend, and I wrote. Not what the voices had commanded earlier, but what the situation had demanded at the moment.
It was the first time I realized I was a writer. It was the first time anyone, other than me, read the dreams, desires, and wants of the characters that littered the pages of my journal. It was my first bad review. And it was a long time after that moment that I was ever able to let anyone read anything I wrote, other than a paper on the history of music, or the importance of the US Constitution. Yet, it was the greatest moment of my life as a writer, because in that moment I realized that it’s not what other people think about the words I etch onto paper, but only that I listen and obey to what the characters in my mind wish for me to convey.
I am a writer because I write, not because someone tells me my writing is good or bad. I am a writer because I listen, not because someone tells me to listen, but because I can do nothing but listen and write. I am a writer, because I am just that…a writer.