The first time I learned how to string words together, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I can still see it in my mind, half sheet of wide ruled paper, second grader scrawl filling up the lines. It was no more than a few sentences, telling the illustrious tale of a unicorn and a girl. It wasn't much, but it was enough. It was a beginning.
In the years that followed, I focused on writing and reading. I considered it research, devouring book after book, hungry for more. Looking back, a lot of those books were beyond my comprehension, beyond what I should have been reading. Les Miserables in sixth grade, every book Stephen King wrote by the end of seventh. It was around that time that I went from writing short stories and diary entries. It was around that time, that I started my novel.
I finished it, too. It was 251 one pages scrawled lovingly in my Hedwig notebook. It was my pride and joy, a story of adventure, love, and discovery. I started on the sequel, which after getting three hundred pages in, decided I hated, and started over. I started to realize a lot of what I was doing wasn't working, seeing the rips and tears in a what I thought was a perfect story. I became hypercritical of my stories, and started looking in a different direction.
It didn't help that these were my angsty teen years. I spent an obscene amount of time scrawling bad poetry and song lyrics. I fancied myself a musician, and decided to pursue that in college.
I should have known better. My dad told me repeatedly that I needed to write, that I needed to major in English. It makes me laugh now. What parent encourages an English major? My parents could clearly see my strengths better than I, and I spent two and a half years hating my major and struggling to write sonatas and analyze Bach before I took a creative writing class.
It was like being alive again. It felt the same way it feels every time I see the ocean, or when I met my son, or when I dream. It was like meeting myself again, after being lost for so long. For me, writing is the beating of my heart. I find comfort in it the way some people find comfort in a lover, in a song. Writing is my spiritual director. I find myself closer to God with each word I write.
But writing is hard. It's vulnerability. I find myself naked, bare. I fluctuate between extreme confidence and self-consciousness. In the dead of night I feel like a failure, like a person playing pipe dreams with no grasp on reality. I feel like a waste of words, "your" where there should be "you're."
It's only through God that I find my strength. I know that He has given me a gift. I know that He nudges me, pushes me, whispers in my ear. I know I'm doing the right thing. It might not be perfect, but it is my path. I write for God, I write for myself, and I write for you, dear reader. I write so that you might know the breathings of my heart, as Wordsworth would say. I write so that you might find, somewhere embedded between my imperfections and typos, a slice of truth, something to touch you, something to change your life and make it better. I hope, in some small way, I make you better.