“Writers don’t enjoy writing. Writers enjoy having written.” —Leonard Sweet
When I was homeschooler in the pre-Facebook, pre-Hulu, pre-driving, pre-cell phone, pre-anything-but-15-minutes-of-email-a-day, I loved writing. Maybe it was because I read —devoured— so many books that I was constantly inspired, maybe it was because I had nothing else to do after I finished my schoolwork for the day (which usually took three hours, tops) — whatever the reason, I used to sit at my outdated, oversized computer for hours a day just writing.
There are dozens of half-finished novels and fragmented stories hiding on old hard-drives and floppy disks scattered who-knows-where at my house. Once, a year or two ago, I unearthed some of them, and I was amazed at what I had written. The amazement was most often in the “what on earth was I thinking?” sense, but there were a few gems here and there that I marveled at. Sure, the writing style was pretentious, and the plotlines were silly (I never had the patience to actually plan anything out before I began), but I was amazed by how much I was able to produce, and the variety, and the depth of some of the characters.
I loved writing. I used to get grounded from my computer because I was up way past my bedtime typing furiously away (with one hand because, for some reason, that came more naturally to me than the proper technique), giving life to my latest inspiration. There were even times when I’d wake up at the crack of dawn to write a few chapters before the time came for chores and schoolwork. Chapters. In a matter of hours, I used to write more pages than I’ll slave over for weeks now.
Because I had so many ideas constantly popping into my head, and because it had never occurred to me to shelve new ideas until I’d finished pursuing older ones, I rarely finished a piece of writing. A few short stories reached their ends, and one novel, which my parents took to Kinkos to get bound. It was a work of fantasy entitled Legend of the Eighth Sea, heavily influenced by Pirates of the Caribbean, Eragon, Lord of the Rings, and Peter Pan, and it was terrible. I didn’t realize that at the time, of course — I was too in love with my hero and heroine, and too proud of the fact that I had successfully seen a 170-something-page work from prologue to epilogue by the ripe old age of 14.
I loved writing until I started going to school full-time and learned the rules.
Until then, my only writing teachers had been my books, and I hadn’t learned to be self-conscious. I was meticulous about my spelling and grammar, but I’d never been told that there were rules about style, about voice, about flow. But then English classes happened, and I learned to worry about whether I was following the rules. Deadlines taught me to feel stress, grades taught me to fear imperfection, and my peers taught me apathy and procrastination.
Being taught how to write suffocated my love for writing.
It’s been five years since I tried to write fiction. I’ve scrawled the occasional song or poem, composed many a blog post, and churned out academic papers and journalistic articles in abundance, but I’m not sure I’d even remember how to write a story anymore. I’m an exceptionally better writer now that I’m in my twenties, but the creativity and the passion of my preteen and early teenage years are buried far beneath everything that school has given me.
My soul pleads to be able to write fiction again, but I’m not even sure where to begin digging.