My short response in the form of a haiku:
the words from my pen
are ones I cannot say but
have always longed to
My short response in the form of a quote:
“Why does one begin to write? Because she feels misunderstood, I guess. Because it never comes out clearly enough when she tries to speak. Because she wants to rephrase the world, to take it in and give it back again differently, so that everything is used and nothing is lost. Because it’s something to do to pass the time until she is old enough to experience the things she writes about.” – Nicole Krauss
My long response:
Why do I write? The earliest memory I have of me falling in love with writing was in 1st grade when our assignment was to create an 8 page water color picture book about an animal. I, naturally, chose a pig who didn’t want to become bacon and started a revolution on his farm which he transformed into a nightclub for animals who didn’t want to be eaten (I later found out the first part was practically a retelling of Animal Farm by George Orwell. This was the first time I was proud when I was told “Great minds think alike”). The only problem with my story was that it could not be contained to only 8 pages of single dotted lined sentences and so I created the longest ever water color picture book in the First Grade of Fort Washington Elementary School. I wrote (and very poorly illustrated) 82 pages over the course of 5 weeks of missed recessed until at last my pig had the most bumpin’ nightclub in all of Indiana. (Don’t worry, I am looking for the remnants of this masterpiece when I head back to where all my old school files are stored)
I tell you this story because when I first thought about the question ‘Why do you write?’ my immediate answer was narcissism, which technically is true but probably shouldn’t have been. Writing was the first I thing I liked to do that I didn’t totally suck at. Before totally immersing myself into writing I tried everything else. Literally. I was in 4 dance troupes because I wanted to be a dancer, when that didn’t come easily I joined musical theater. I thought that I just had to be good at musical theater because of the amount of time I spent watching musicals with my grandmother. ERRRR. Wrong again. I tried drawing and baking and soccer and softball and painting and even math until I realized that everything I enjoyed doing, everything I thought I could have making a living out, everything all my friends were good at, I totally sucked at.
My final option for me was reading. I was good at reading, I mean everyone at my school was, we had a great education but I couldn’t make a living off reading, right? I immersed myself in books, I was reading three grade levels above me by second grade and I could name every single Lemony Snicket book in order. (There’s 13 of them, that was a big feat for a 9 year old). I never even considered writing as a career, it was just a subject I was good at in school, until the 6th grade when I took Language Arts with Mrs. Meyers.
The funny thing is that my first encounter with Mrs. Meyers wasn’t on the first day of school in the daunting classroom in the Middle School left wing. No, instead Mrs. Meyers had been a constant in my life since many years before. She went to high school with my mother and her kids were in Sunday School with me. I had frequented her house many times before and I called her husband by his first name, Rich. It’s funny now, looking back at it, I had no idea the amount of inspiration and faith she would instill in me as a clueless 11 year old. She was the first (besides my family) to tell me I had a business writing, and that I did it well. I still have my journal from that year, I look at her comments even now when I get discouraged. I write because some one took a chance on me 5 years ago and said “Hey, you’re good at this. This makes you happy. Don’t ever stop, okay?”. And everything was great, until I moved. The summer after 6th grade but before 7th.
I am home-schooled. I obviously wasn’t before, all the way through middle school, but I am now. What is the reason some one usually home schools? I wouldn’t know. I hadn’t known a single homeschooler before I started on my own. But the reason I am home-schooled is also the reason that I write. Before I was home-schooled and after the year in Mrs. Meyers’ class I went to a private, International Baccalaureate school here in Hawaii. School was fine, I got good grades, I had nice friends and I didn’t dread waking up every day. But that was before I developed anxiety. There are multiple ways you could categorize my life one being, BM and AM (Before Move and After Move), the other being BA and AA (Before Anxiety and After Anxiety). Although I am aware that my anxiety had always been present I can pinpoint the exact moment when it became Anxiety with a capital A and began severely interfering with my life.
It was the second quarter of English class in 7th grade. My favorite subject, English and my favorite teacher, Miss. Baxter (She got married when I was in 8th grade so I guess now she is a Ms.). We had an assignment to write a poem about something so I wrote mine about Disney movies, it was easy and fun and I had no problems. We were told the day before we had to read it aloud and I was fine with that like I always was. I never had trouble speaking in front of people. And then it was my turn. I stood up there and everyone looked at me and I remember smiling, excited to read my poem because it had some funny parts that I knew my classmates would laugh at. And then IT happened. All of the sudden there was this tightening feeling in my chest and my stomach did a flip flop and I couldn’t open my mouth. It was like there was a string attached to my tear valve (or wherever your tears come from) and if I were to say anything I would burst and the floodgates would be open. I ran out of the room, Ms. Baxter and my best friend right behind me and there was this horrible noise that came up from my throat and I sobbing started. It wasn’t the type of tears triggered from an emotional movie but rather those ugly fat ones that come with that nasty sobbing noise that sounds halfway between a cow and a screeching monkey. I didn’t know what was happening, I was so confused and I was crying because I was confused and embarrassed and because I couldn’t stop crying.
For the next three years my anxiety or what I had initially labeled as “Stage Fright” crippled my every move. (I no longer call it stage fright because I do not experience when I am on stage in drama class. That is the only time I don’t experience it. Weird, huh?). I would have trouble answering simple question from then on in class, my cheeks would get hot and my eyes would tear up. I’d get that tight chest feeling and stomach flip-flop every time I thought we were going to be late which caused me to cry. Every time I had to do a report I would hype myself up only to be talking between sobs before I even finished the first sentence. It was something that could only be conquered by facing it head on and so my legacy was crying in every single Humanities class, every single day because that was the only class I was absolutely required to speak (and I had a lot to say). It’s funny though, how my mind would be clear and I knew exactly what I wanted to say even between sniffles and cries. It was getting better though and that’s what mattered.
9th grade. My last year in “traditional” school. I had come to terms with my anxiety and let it play out as it never failed to do. But by the second semester with all my work piling up, trying to overcome this demon became to much. When I first started having these speaking troubles I had become acquainted with depression and the ugly things it brings along with it. Well, in 9th grade that old fiend came back and it was worse than ever. I lost all motivation and I was endlessly tired. I couldn’t sleep and when I managed to get a little shut eye it was because my eyes became too heavy with tears to keep themselves open. All the positive energy that I put towards overcoming my anxiety instantly disappeared and I was stuck with my thoughts and the words I wanted so badly to say. Even if it was just a simple “I think this…” or “I’m doing well today because…” or “The latissimus dorsi is located…” I could no longer manage it. I was drained of my energy and willingness and so I eventually stopped trying because it was just too hard.
I am not homeschooled because I gave up. Homeschooling allowed me to open up and grow on my own terms, it has been so beneficial in dealing with my anxiety among other things. I am homeschooled because the community I was in was not beneficial for me or the disorder I was struggling with. I am homeschooled because I could not stand having to be silent when I had so much to say. I am homeschooled because I have words spilling out of my brain leaving in trains and planes and busload that I finally feel comfortable letting out.
I write because the community I was in was not beneficial for me or the disorder I was struggling with. I write because I can not stand having to be silent when I have so much to say. I write because I have words spilling out of my brain leaving in trains and planes and bus loads that I finally feel comfortable letting out.
I write because I am.
“I am. I think. I will.” – Ayn Rand
(This post is in response to Blogging University’s Writing 101 Day 1 prompt)