This week’s Flash Fiction Contest is not about fiction. Author and fountain of writing advice Chuck Wendig has challenged us this week to write 1000 words about what drives us to write.
I’ve been writing forever. I was writing novels in fourth grade, cringing and rewriting them in fifth grade. Sharing chapters with my friends in middle school and wishing I hadn’t in the first months of high school. I don’t have any memory of choosing to write–it just happened. Someone put a laptop in front of me, I got a crazy idea about fairies and dragons, and everything else enfolded from there.
My first novel was called After We Waited for Ever, and I thought the title was the cleverest pun in the world. To be honest, I’m still really proud of it, and the story that it created. I stopped writing it when it became clear that it was no longer the story I needed to write, but I still remember those characters.
Looking back on my writing career since I started high school, it can charitably be described as stop-and-start. I’ve been working on my current WIP (Devil May Care–another title I’m rather fond of) since freshman year. My writing productivity is lackluster. Inertia is my byword. Everything gets in the way, and on bad days, the urge to write feels more like a guilt trip than a friendly reminder.
But even when I’m not writing, because of school’s stress or summer’s laziness, I always have an itch to sit down and write. I always open the Word Document again, put my hands back on the keyboard, and find my characters’ voices again.
I cannot imagine a world in which I don’t identify as a writer. I have my characters inside of me, my themes and plots always buzzing around in my mind. I keep a notebook by the side of my bed to jot down late night inspirations. I leave myself electronic sticky notes on my phone and my laptop’s desktop with plot notes and reminders to write. My Devil May Care (secret) Pinterest board is one of my most commonly used boards. I always come back to my story, even if it takes a few months without it to remember why I need it.
When I’m writing, I know I’m a writer. There is no feeling like hitting a groove and letting the words tumble out of you and onto the paper. Writing is the best outlet for emotion I know, the best therapy money can buy, the best escape I can find. To write fiction is to play a game of cat and mouse with the ideas trapped inside of you–and I crave the satisfaction of winning.
I write to meet the people inside of me. The rebellious girl, the flirtatious guy, the bully, the power-hungry ruler, the scared teenager, the fighter, the best friend, the older brother, the ex. To watch people fight and fall in love and do stupid things and find friendship and rise to the challenge of being themselves.
I write to figure out what I think about the world, to have the voices inside of me debate the issues of politics and feminism and the American school system on paper.
I write to explore the things that terrify me and challenge the assumptions that ground me.
I write because how else would I know what I’m thinking?
I write because I can’t stop reading.
I write because when I’m falling asleep, my thoughts trip on themselves and become poetry. I write because words can’t stop rearranging themselves in my mind.
I write because if I get the words in the right order, sometimes people shut up and listen.
I write because people tell me I’m good at it. I write because writing a novel seems like something that could get me into college.
I write because I want someone someday to read my books and understand something about themselves that they’d never realized before.
I write because it is the hardest thing that I’ve ever tried to do.
I write because I am a writer, and I’m not ready to give up.