How I Started Writing
What’s the first thing you remember writing?
The first time I wrote on my own — not for a school assignment — was after an argument with my sister (over something trivial, I’m sure). My mother was working rotating shifts in a factory. She was a day sleeper, so we had to keep quiet in the house. Unable to have a proper argument, I pulled out a notebook and wrote down my anger. Just dumped it all on paper.
I was eleven or twelve, my sister two years older.
As you’d imagine, the process was therapeutic. I later learned that behind every piece of writing there are emotions and feelings, and putting them down helps.
We all have little stories inside us and few get told. Since I couldn’t argue away my story, I retreated to the intimacy of writing as an outlet. An emotional exercise that, unbeknownst to me, calmed the mind and saved us from an unnecessary fight.
Years later, my sister finally read what I wrote. By then the notebook had become a journal, full of stories and musings. To this day, she claims her role as the muse that set me on the road to writing.
I kept my journal for occasional thoughts until high school; but with time I wrote less. As all writers know, it’s not easy writing deeply personal thoughts — heart break, loss, the daily grind of feelings. There is a fine line between therapy and dwelling on the tedium of life.
Fiction is different. Fictionalizing the truth fed a newly born creative need, allowing ideas freedom. I suppose that’s what escapism is about.
“Once you’ve escaped, […] the world is not the same as when you left it. You come back to it with skills, weapons, knowledge you didn’t have before. Then you are better equipped to deal with your current reality.” Neil Gaiman
Or as Shirley Jackson as said:
“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality.”
I needed a form of fictionalized reality, which writing provided.
Writing as Creative Outlet
Creative expression, in any form, starts early. I didn’t know the first thing about plotting out a storyline in those early days. It was just story dumping, no rhyme or reason, just internal expression. It was freeing, writing away unbothered.
The mechanics came later. Learning the craft brought organization, a better use of time and skill. More importantly, it brought the understanding that writing is not just about me. We need other writers and, of course, we need readers.
I’ve heard writing referred to as the lonesome of creative endeavors. It doesn’t have to be. By design, we need time alone in order to write. Whether in front of a computer, or staring out the window. Driving or lying poolside. We have ideas and look to put them into action. And for that we need peace. But we also need one another, a community of creatives, and we need those seeking to escape the tedium of daily grind — the readers.
We all have little stories inside us and very few get told. Moreover, we are stories, fictionalized or painfully factual. Stories waiting to be written and shared.
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