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Why I Write?

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

How I began my journey as a writer.

I think my story of why I decided to pursue my passion for writing has a very "fated" feel to it, as in "I was always destined to write." Maybe that sounds too campy, but you might find you agree with me once you learn a little of my history.

As a little kid, I really struggled with reading. In kindergarten, I had a hard time learning phonics, which set me up for a whole lot of trouble. The kind of trouble that leaves lasting emotional impact in a bad way. Because of my trouble with reading, my teacher abused me for it. She gave permission to my peers to bully me about it, which resulted in being called stupid, dummy, retard, and so on. It was rough.

I had no friends. Here I was, in kindergarten, only 4-years-old, and already I had zero friends. I mean, let's face it, who wants to be friends with the kid that even the teacher thinks is an idiot??? But it didn't end there.

Sometimes, my teacher would sit me in the middle of the classroom and let the other students call me names. Sometimes, she, herself, would tell me my parents didn't want me and that they didn't love me. Other times, she wouldn't let me go out to play at recess because I couldn't answer questions in class correctly that had to do with phonics. So, many days, I just sat in the classroom by myself, feeling angry because I couldn't do the stupid phonics stuff everyone else could.

The result of this year of educational hell was that I switched to a different school, was held back a year, and spent the following several years in tutoring, summer school, and extra reading programs to try and help me catch up. For as long as I can remember, I hated reading and writing. No books interested me, no stories captured my attention, and any time someone asked me if I liked to read, the resulting answer was a firm and definitive, "No."

“For as long as I can remember, I hated reading and writing. No books interested me, no stories captured my attention, and any time someone asked me if I liked to read, the resulting answer was a firm and definitive, 'No'.”

Life has a funny way, however, of twisting and turning onto unexpected avenues. And my twist came in third grade with a teacher I was absolutely terrified of. We had a school assignment where we had to write a story using as many of our spelling words as possible. I always balked at these types of assignments because it contained all the stuff I hated most: reading, writing, spelling, and freaking phonics! This time was no different, but I had no choice, so on I went to the arduous task of reading, writing, spelling, and freaking phonics. But, as it would turn out, this time was different.

For that assignment, I wrote a story about a boy who wanted to discover the mystery behind "ghost in the water." He goes scuba diving at an old shipwreck where the ghost has been spotted before. As he searches, he finds different treasures and interesting creatures, but he can't find his primary target: the ghost. At the end of the story, a glimmer of silver and white catches his attention, sparking excitement for him since he has finally found the ghost. When he swims toward it, he realizes the ghost is actually a shark that lives in the shipwreck, thus solving the mystery of the ghost. That was it. That was the story. Much longer, obviously, with a whole lot of spelling words and freaking phonics, but that was the story in a nutshell.

I thought nothing of it. Just another assignment. It didn't matter to me any more than any other assignment I'd done. But this one, somehow, was different. Because this time, my teacher saw something more than a third grader's story. She saw talent.

When I got my story back, I got the first "A" I'd ever gotten on an assignment like this. And, not only did I get an "A," but she pulled me aside to speak to me privately. She expressed how impressed she was that I, as a third grader, could tell such a detailed and well thought-out story. She shared that she thought the story was so good, she actually brought it to the principal's office to have her look at it.

Hmmm... imagine that. Maybe this phonics stuff wasn't so bad after all. Maybe I wasn't as dumb as everyone said I was all those years ago??? Nah... just an isolated incident. I still hated reading, writing, spelling, and freaking phonics.

My opinion of reading and writing didn't change that day, but that was the first time someone else saw talent in me for storytelling. And it didn't stop there.

A Storyteller was Born

In sixth grade, I finally discovered that books could be fun. In fifth grade, my father brought me a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone shortly after it came out. A customer of his gave him the book after hearing how much I hated to read. The customer told him that the book "was going to be BIG someday." (How right he was!) But that book sat on my shelf for an entire year. It wasn't until sixth grade when everyone at school was talking about it, that I finally decided to give it a try and fell in love with it! Harry Potter established my love of reading, and, as such, I feel eternally indebted to J.K. Rowling for her amazing work of fiction.

Every writer is a reader at heart. Storytellers love to hear stories. It sharpens their craft, inspires them, and expands their way of thinking. By becoming a reader myself, my desire to write my own stories started to bloom. I began writing for fun.

In seventh grade, we had an English assignment where we were expected to write an alternate ending to a short story we read. Although I wasn't a huge fan of the story, I envisioned an ending that revealed a secret love story between the protagonist and antagonist. The following day in class, we were partnered up, and exchanged stories. My partner swooned (I mean literally swooned) in the middle of class when she read my ending and gushed at how much she loved the new ending.

When the teacher asked if anyone wanted to share their endings, my partner raised her hand. To my dismay, she wasn't interested in sharing her story but mine! I thought I was going to die, and resisted the urge to crawl under my desk and hide. I most certainly did not want my story shared, especially in front of all the boys in class. But my partner got what she wanted, and she read my ending aloud.

The result? Literally, every single girl in class, including my teacher, swooned. And every boy moaned in disgust. It made me laugh and smile and feel totally embarrassed. My teacher proceeded to complement me on my ending, sharing how good she thought it was. And even though I was embarrassed, seeing the reaction I got out of my entire class from writing a few pages intrigued me and motivated me to write more.

Unbeknownst to me, something else happened as a result of writing this alternate ending. My teacher reached out to my mother privately. She told my mom that I had real talent in storytelling, and if my talent was crafted, shaped, and worked with, I could be successful one day.

Since then, I went on to write more, and I wrote my first full-length novel in high school. That novel will never see the light of day. It's terrible! But I did it. Then, I went on to write some more. I've written hundreds of beginnings, short stories, and plotted even more in notebooks that I've carried with me over the past decade. It is only until recently that I have found a new story to tell that I want to share with the world.

Dissent is the second, full-length novel I have written, and I really see my author journey culminated in this piece of fiction. It brings me so much excitement to share it with readers, and I can only hope that the story speaks to someone like Harry Potter spoke to me all those years ago.

That's my story. That's why I feel as though I was always destined to write. I think about it now, and I can't help but notice the perfect story arch, the perfect hero's journey, mapped out in my experience. The kid who couldn't read, who was bullied for it, and as a result, hated reading and writing, goes on a journey to get better at the craft. Along the way, wise helpers see the true talent the hero has, and encourages the hero to keep trying. And slowly, the hero gets better, stronger, and learns to love the work. In the end, the hero cherishes that which she once hated. The hero becomes the ultimate expression of reading and writing by accepting her calling as an author.

That's why I write. I was destined to.

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