Signing onto Twitter and Facebook today clued me in to the fact that today is the National Day on Writing, mainly due to the presence of #WhyIWrite.
So, I thought I’d post a bit about my reason for writing, and why it took me so long to get here.
When I was very small, I loved telling stories, acting, dancing, singing – I loved anything that would make me the center of attention. My first grade teacher gave us all little “books” to make, and I took to them like a fish takes to water. I loved it. I loved being able to write stories like the books I loved to read. I remember telling people I wanted to be a writer.
Unfortunately, life happens. The economy tanked. The emphasis on “testing well” grew, along with the basic requirement to attend college post-high school. My high school attempted to raise its “college attendance rate”, and most junior and senior English teachers required a certain amount of college applications to be filled out and mailed in (my teacher’s requirement was 3). I had attempted to take Creative Writing my senior year (open only to juniors and seniors until my own junior year), but was removed from the class due to having seven class hours instead of six. I had even been (nicely) told that I would forfeit any help with student loans if I attempted to major in English. The last of my own stories that I wrote had people questioning if I was a lesbian because I wrote “too well” (look, it was middle school, so I don’t understand the connection) and started me down a long road of bullying.
So I took the safe route. I stopped writing, focused on safe grades, then went to a safe school, with a safe major. I went to the safe school for two years, and due to medical reasons, I didn’t even get the damn degree. I ended up in a crappy retail job (much the same as a lot of my friends in college), met my now-husband, had a baby, and got married. I went for a better job, which exacerbated my medical issues. I’m now unable to work “a real job” for the foreseeable future.
So, I decided to do what I love: research. I’m strange – I love to look things up. I can spend actual hours on websites and in books, just reading about places and people and inventions. I’d been researching medieval Spain just because I found the time period interesting, and a piece of a story ended up lodging itself in my head. I originally wanted to write about Enrique’s surviving legitimate daughter, Leonor, who ends up in an unhappy marriage, but I happened to glance at his will and noticed the only daughter whose mother he didn’t mention, who didn’t have a viable connection to any of her father’s other children to actually have a probable mother.
Constanza’s story spoke to me.
But I was afraid. I would stare at the screen and wonder why I should bother. I wasn’t a writer! I hadn’t written since elementary school. I spent my time watching my husband with his hobbies and becoming sadder and sadder at feeling so useless. One day (after a conversation about what we liked to do when we were younger, and why we stopped) he asked me, “Why don’t you write anymore?”
Because I was afraid of rejection, or afraid that I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. I was afraid that if I wrote, our son would come across my stories one day and laugh. I was afraid he wouldn’t like it. It had been over a decade since my last “story”.
“I don’t know.”
“You should. It’ll make you feel better.”
“What if it’s awful?”
“What if it isn’t?”
“I don’t know…”
“What if [Kiddo] comes home one day and has given up on his dreams because someone said he shouldn’t believe in them? What would you do?”
“I’d say they should go fuck themselves.”
And that was the push I needed. I started making plans. It was late October, so I planned to compete in NaNoWriMo for the first time in years. I don’t want my son to think it’s acceptable to just give up on his passion because someone swears it will never work. I don’t want my husband to worry about me anymore, like he did for a while there. I write for my family more than I write for myself, and to be honest, I like it best this way. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me.