The Writer's Mind

A seven-year-old with large blue eyes and a Little Mermaid nightgown gazed intently at a small unicorn notebook. She dutifully scribbled "Secrete" in pen on the first page, intending it to say "secret." When she asked her parents if "Secrete" correctly spelled "secret" and discovered the truth, her perfectionist nature took hold, and her eyes fill with tears, but rather than scribble out the last "e," she chose to write about Secrete, a unicorn, to atone for her own blunder. Although the story idea failed miserably, the girl found her calling. That girl grew up to become me, an eccentric teenager with a passion for writing. Unfortunately, at age fifteen, due to various reasons, I decided to stop writing and move on. When I attempted this, I realized just how much writing means to me, and I couldn't let it go. Perhaps I suffer from graphomania, an obsession with writing, or perhaps I just love literature and the writing thereof.

The world of literature always held me close. My parents read me stories even after I read chapter books on my own, and from the time I could understand until I turned eight, my grandma told me stories she created about magical creatures and their adventures, stories that would literally last for hours. With these stories, she sparked my love for creativity and expression. From second through fourth grade, I obsessed over Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes. Occasionally, I read three or four books a day during the summer. Sixth grade introduced me to many different styles, story types, and even more character styles. My mom, sister, and I lived with my grandparents, and in order to have "alone time," I read everything I found. Some of the books I read then affected my outlook drastically, and boosted my will to write. The years after sixth grade mattered little, except that my wish to write like professionals and affect others the way those writers affected me strengthened.

I possess no memory of a time when I didn't write or imagine stories. Shortly after the failure of the unicorn story, I wrote pieces of short detective stories, but threw them away. I never actually wanted to write until the fifth grade, when I wrote the beginnings of four historical fictions and two fantasy stories. Then, I finally accepted the inevitable: I would become a writer. I stood up straight, smirked almost proudly, marched my school project over to my grandma, and said meekly, "Here, Gramma, read this. I want to be a writer." The story, about a Jewish girl in Nazi Germany, received failing reviews, and I retreated back into hiding, refusing to show anyone my stories again. In sixth and seventh grade, I discovered fan fiction, in which rabid fans write fiction involving characters from their favorite shows or books. Today, I write fan fiction whenever Writer's Block bats me away from my original stories. Also in seventh grade, aside from developing a taste for poetry and writing a twenty-page beginning to a book idea that I threw out, I wrote the basic idea for a novel I am currently writing. In eighth grade, I finally decided to show my writing to other people, so I published my fan fiction online under the name "Iota," which I stole from one of my former characters. Today, I am relatively confident about my writing, but it took a long time to become that way.

I forced myself to remember that what writing means to me stands alone as the most important factor, whether I write well or not. Writing helps me to organize my thoughts and often metaphorical ideas about life, the world, and various other grand insights. I practically "live and breathe" metaphors, but many of them are hard to explain. They are much easier to understand, even for myself, if I write them into a small part of a story. Sometimes, it takes a half a page to explain a metaphor about a bead of water dripping down a blade of grass or the way trees are greener when the sky is gray. Also, my thoughts, as stated in the paragraph above, are in "story format," which may drive others crazy. I understand what goes on around me much more easily, however, by subconsciously picturing it as the contents of a book, although I refuse to keep a journal. For years, I neither realized nor appreciated the helpfulness of my passion for writing.

Near the end of ninth grade, I flipped through my old documents and notebooks and wanted to cry. I lost what little confidence I had in my writing ability and decided to stop writing for good. Although some of the stories I wrote earlier had good ideas, they possessed no hope of survival. Editing them proved impossible. Because I despised everything I had written in the past several years, I despised myself. I didn't have Writer's Block, but worse – plenty of ideas, but the inability to write. In desperation, I concluded that to stop writing forever would yield the best possible outcome for me. So, I hid all of my files, deleted many of my old documents, and put away my notebooks.

I thought I ended it. When I stopped writing, my world crashed down and closed in around me, and I realized that writing isn't just a hobby – it's a way of life. I had to try incredibly hard not to write, and I began to notice little things I do that are related to writing. I realized with shock as I walked down the school hallway that I transform everything I see or hear into "story format," or that the information flows through my mind as if I read a first-person, gravely detailed story. It required an incredible amount of effort to try to stop, but I eventually managed. At home, I avoided my computer more than anything else for fear that I might open a new document and start writing. I already opened it once without thinking. Also, the world twisted into a much emptier place, as if a void separated me from everyone and everything. My strength to remain abstinent faded, and the fine line that is reality quivered.

The reality is that I can't stop writing because I depend on it in many ways. The child with ridiculous, meaningless stories about unicorns grew to be an aspiring writer who has regained her confidence in both her writing and herself, and is writing a novel. Her talent, however small, keeps her going. Despite how often the main character changes and the story undergoes rewriting and revision, the novel actually progresses. I may "suffer" from graphomania, but I refuse to quit writing again. In the words of W. Somerset Maugham, a playwright and novelist, "We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to."