The challenge was to write from a personal place- why do I write. So the anecdote I chose was a memory that’s as clear to me now as if it happened yesterday, when the reality is it was decades ago. And that I found my way back to it despite being mired in…a lot.
I’ve taken to lying on my stomach scribbling furiously, note paper just ahead of me, the main light source from the dining area in front of me. It’s homework, yet it’s a deviation from my usual assignments. But there I am, anxious and wanting to be finished. I want to get to the story’s end. I’m excited for it, so much so I start to get annoyed it’s taking so long. I don’t know my age, just that I’m still in elementary school based on the house we were living in. I don’t even remember what class it was for, but I remember determination and wishing I could be doing this scribbling business faster. Oh elementary me, if you only had an inkling of what gadgetry awaited in the future.
That was the moment when the idea of writing said ‘Hi!’ In the years following, it turned into a warm ember that every so often was stoked to something hotter, but not quite a flame. Flames came at sixteen, when I found a chat room where people wanted to LARP that way. In stumbling upon that, I stumbled upon Whitewolf’s RPGs and I stopped feeling less weird inside about the distractions and daydreams I had.
Of all the things writing is, of all the potential it can be, it’s my joy. I channel my stress into creativity by writing. I feel as if I’ve spent hours well when I spend them crafting wordery. I didn’t always feel that way about it though. For a long time, I longed for it. Felt as if thinking of how I used to write was akin to gazing at photos of loved long lost. It was always there though, it just felt out of my reach.
I spent too many years in a toxic, abusive environment. I didn’t know I was there, I just knew no matter what I tried, I couldn’t fix my despair, couldn’t lighten my footfalls. I couldn’t understand why nothing I tried worked and I let the fleeting quest for solutions consume what precious time I used to carve for me. I missed not feeling as if I were under a constant shadow of having to do rather than choosing to do. I lived for days of respite solely because it meant I wasn’t in that rock-slide sludge pit hedging bets by floating. I didn’t know underneath that, I was slowly hollowing out.
“That’s not like me…”
That observation, that fleeting instant in a spot miles away from my day-in-day-out trudgery was the solitary thing that stopped me from crossing into complete apathy and Creator knows what else. I was fortunate enough to be able to get help, not be an only voice in a room. Help was where the adjectives for my environment entered my orbit. I’m certain I refused the idea largely because I didn’t want to feel so ashamed and stupid for not recognizing how badly I was treated and how awful my environment was. Ashamed that something so stealthy broke me. I’d been broken before, but I saw it largely head on. I don’t think Death makes a spectacle of its intentions purposely. It didn’t for me or my family. And it seems like that gets you a certain pass, regardless if you applied for it or not.
This thing though? Apparently all I needed was to think happy thoughts. And maybe click my ruby shoes three times. I was apathetic just enough to not care about people looking in from the outside- it didn’t outweigh my needing for something to make sense, and the words in that confident room, they started to make sense.
Then the anger bubbled up, started creating waves of ‘Fuck You,’ energy for me to coast on. A familial trait that perhaps rides a wave of its own at the idea of skipping a generation. Somewhere in there, writing wasn’t behind some impregnable clear wall just beyond me. Ideas came at me and I was reunited with the joy and excitement just plotting gave me. It was barely an instant in that reunion, fathoming the extent of the thievery; it just pissed me off all the more.
Depression took a lot of my joy; it sucked out the energy for aspiration and berated me for spending what free time I had completely exhausted camped out in my room instead of my workshop. Writing though? Writing made itself a dream and made sure it was always within my sight; even if it was on the outskirts.
Maybe it had its own ‘Fuck You’ energy it rode because I’d reread some adventures from those early RPG years. I’d read the things I started and stopped, remembering some of the Easter eggs I put in there to remind me of ideas of where I wanted to go. I’d reread outlines and character builds. I’d tell myself next day off, to sit down and add something to a work in progress. I’d sign up for NaNoWriMo (and miss the point of it when I felt a failure come 30 November), but the nudges were ever present. Perhaps when I needed them most. I can’t tell for certain.
In that painful isolation, Writing never left. Stories never left, though I am amazed that all that stuff stayed in my head. Maybe it refused to be deleted or be overwritten by an ideology of being an utterly worthless human being. I don’t know.
What I know is one day while I took inventory about how I was feeling, how I felt throughout the day, I noticed I felt better. Not just that day was a thankfully good day, but that I felt summarily better. Beyond that, there was Writing, beckoning a missed friend over, eager to get into all sorts of mayhemed frivolity, reveling in my burgeoning excitement and inevitable annoyance that I can’t write fast enough.
It wasn’t until in that ‘After,’ realizing certain stories were still there, waiting to put to screen instead of written in my head, that I entertained it wasn’t some ‘hobby’ habitually written off as being some kind of ‘not a really real thing grown-ups do.’ I write because if in my most hopeless moments it remained, then storytelling is a core part of me. And I’ve work to do.