For me, writing has always been a way of thinking. That’s how it started for me, with my journals. It was only later that I thought that I might want it for a career. I don’t think I started to read, seriously, until I was thirteen or so. I’ve read the odd book, but I didn’t become a bookaholic until that year.
For me, writing was thinking. It was a way of jutting down in some order, right there in front of me, what my jumbled mind thought. The funny thing is that once I started to read a lot, my writing as thinking became better. I think the first time I seriously thought about writing as a career was three years ago when a teacher handed me an essay with the top grade and like ten pluses after it. When I asked her, she said that I was years ahead of the rest, as writers, and that I should aim for it.
I thought about that, and I did aim for it, because she was right. I loved doing it, and I had started to write things that weren’t just my thoughts. Little snippets of stories. A poem or two. I finished my first novel when I was fifteen, a two hundred and fifty thousand word monstrosity that I spent seven months on. I typed every word, thought every sentence, and passed the finish line. While the novel is utter rubbish as things go, the feeling when I finished it was so intense.
Then I signed up anonymously to a writing circle, and the novel was absolutely torn to pieces by those writers. There was no end to the problems with it, from a technical and craft standpoint. Since they didn’t know that there was a fifteen year old kid on the other side of the monitor, they tore into it. The only thing they never did say was: You better go turn hamburgers for a living because you’re not fit for this.
It stung. It stung more than I can describe. But they didn’t say “you stink, go away”. They guided me, helped me, and I think I’m better for it. I became better. That also gave me a highly unromantic view of my writings. They’re thoughts, but as thoughts they’re open for improvements. Criticism of my writing is not a criticism of me. I learned that fast, and I think I learned it quite well.
I just wrote “the end” of a piece that I’ve worked on this spring, and that I’ve put off again and again and again with all the stuff at school. I feel fantastic now, because I’ve finished something, again. Finishing things is always such a rush. A narcotic. A high. I know it needs to be revised, but now I can revise a finished thing. It exists now.