Why I Write

on Monday, June 30, 2014
    Looking through my past blog posts, I realized I never really went into detail about why I write.  I've talked about what I hope to accomplish as an author, but I never said why I want to do all of that as an author rather than through some other career path.  

    When I was 12 I started to write down a dream I had because I thought it was an interesting dream and I wanted to know what happened at the end, and the easiest way I found to get to the end was to write it down and see where the story went.  Eventually I shared it with my friends and they encouraged me to keep writing it down because they wanted to know what would happen too.  After I filled two notebooks with the story, I realized it really wasn't that great of a storyline and I became bored with it.  I did actually write an ending for it even though I left off in the middle of the story.  My English teacher did an amazing job of encouraging me to do what I loved.  We would talk about books we enjoyed after school and she would recommend her favorites for me to read.  She encouraged my imagination in ways that I don't remember specifically, but I remember how I felt in her class.  I remember how much I loved doing her assignments and getting feedback on my writing.  I remember the poetry unit we did and how she told me my creativity and writing were astounding.  But most importantly I remember writing my story in my notebook in her classroom after finishing an assignment early and how for the first time I thought I could actually use my writing to do something with my life, and how she pulled me aside after watching me write so furiously to tell me I should think about becoming like the authors I admired so much.  I will always remember that classroom being the place where I suddenly knew who and what I wanted to be.

    Just before I left off my first book, I had another story idea. This time it was fantasy, my favorite genre.  I immediately started to write down as much as I could, as fast as I could.  Again, my friends read it and admired it.  The thing I remember most clearly was how much I enjoyed writing cliff hangers for my friends.  My best friend at the time was really into the story and I felt so powerful torturing her with a chapter ending, but she couldn't read ahead because I hadn't written anymore.  She was my first dedicated reader.  I found myself writing solely for her enjoyment, torture, and reactions.  We were in the same choir class, and I remember her getting in trouble because she couldn't put the notebook down.  It was the first time I had turned someone else into the reader I was. I brought her distractions during the rough times of being a middle schooler, and I brought her inspiration when she needed it.  She told me she wanted to be like my characters, and it taught me so much about the relationship I want to have with my readers.
    Upon entering high school, my free time to dedicate to writing almost vanished entirely.  I was still writing that story in my notebook in my limited spare time, but I also started to experiment with writing a first draft of a new idea on the computer.  I would type it up, and eventually I gained the courage to post what I wrote on social media (my brand new Facebook page).  With that came a whole new audience to my writing.  I remember one serious reader I gained who I am still good friends with to this day.  I got in trouble from my parents for writing (and being on Facebook) when I was supposed to be working on homework, and I got banned from Facebook for a week.  I wrote a new chapter to my new story on the computer, but I couldn't post it on Facebook, and my new reader had begged me incessantly to read it.  To appease her, I had to print up my chapters and bring them to school to pass off to her.  She was ecstatic.  I never finished that story because my writing process did not work without me hand writing a copy first.  It was also Christmas that year that I received a creative writing assignment that I took to heart and to which I dedicated many days of serious work.  Shortly after finishing it, I was spending time with my cousins who inspired another story, this one the most promising idea I had ever had.  This was when I started to write Misunderstood, which I have previously shared in this post http://alysonbowen.blogspot.com/2014/05/old-writing.html#.U7IwYBZcMpA.  Even though I dropped this book when I started writing Rose, I am still thoroughly dedicated to the idea of this book and I have plans to finish it one day.  Misunderstood became my obsession for six years.
    During my second year in high school I ended up hitting a stopping point in my writing because of how little time I found myself dedicating to it at that point.  I had started a notebook of poetry, and at certain times I would find myself writing melodies for my poems that I eventually developed into songs.  It definitely was not the same as writing a story, but it kept me sane enough to continue with my overloads of homework.  I found when I wasn't writing, I still had an overwhelming flow of words completely overloading my brain and I needed to write them down in order for them to escape and leave my brain at peace.  I often find myself distracted from the world in front of my eyes because of the worlds swirling just behind them.  The only escape is to write, and write, and keep writing.  It's almost as if a pressure exists on my brain that relents only when I can free the words into existence on paper.  That was when I discovered that I no longer had a desire to write; I had an insistent and inescapable need to write.

    As I was packing for college, I found something that I had saved from my second grade class.  My second grade teacher was nothing special that I can remember.  It was just another class for me.  But finding this paper changed how I viewed this class.  On the last day of school my teacher had handed out a summary of the class that included one statement about each member of the class.  What I found next to my name blew my mind.  She wrote, "Alyson is so creative and will probably one day be a book author".  This was five years before I even knew what I wanted to do, but as I looked back at my elementary school years, I realized that all of the signs were there and I lucked out to have teachers who cultivated my creativity and fed my imagination.  For example, in kindergarten I was given special reading assignments because I was reading at an advanced level (at that point I had already been reading for almost a year and had gone through every book I could read multiple times).  Most specifically, I remember my third grade teacher who encouraged me to read everything I could.  I read Harry Potter books for book reports, and she was so thrilled that I had such a deep understanding of the stories that we would have the most intellectual conversations an eight year old and her teacher could. I'll never forget when we went to the school library and the librarian forced me to read books that were in my reading level but were not within my interests, and my teacher fought to let me check out whatever book I wanted and when the librarian refused, my teacher never took us back.  Sadly, this also brings back memories of teachers who almost crushed my imagination and desire to read.  The example I most remember is when I was in sixth grade and my teacher gave us a reading level test and I had to leave in the middle to use the bathroom and he wouldn't give me extra time so I never finished and he confronted me and told me that obviously I wasn't a good reader and that I must be strong in math instead.  I went home crying because the way he said it to me made me feel like I could never use my love of reading to amount to anything and he wouldn't give me another chance, but my mother somehow encouraged me to prove him wrong and I dedicated my entire year to doing my best in English and by the end of the year he apologized for judging me based off that test.

    In recent years, I have tried to rewrite many of my old stories because the ideas never leave completely.  Usually they just wait patiently at the back of my mind until they hit a point where they start to bug often enough that I can't ignore it.  I have plans for some, and others I have abandoned completely.  Like I said in a previous post, I can't control the stories because they happen without me and I'm left trying to catch up to the characters.  This is true for everything I write.  I feel that the words I write are already written somewhere, I am just bringing them into physical existence in our world.  I am a writer because I cannot stop myself from writing.  I am a writer because I fight Hypergraphia.  I am overwhelmed by the urge to write.  I am a writer because I am a reader and a dreamer at heart.  I am a writer because of the people who believed in me.  If you are reading this, then I am a writer because of you.  Thank you.



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