Writing Challenge: Writerly Reflections

My journey to writing technically began when I was a kid even though I don’t recall ever writing a word outside of a school assignment until I was in college. I never had many friends I could call my own. Mostly I hung around my older brother and his friends. I’m sure some of them probably viewed me as a friend after awhile, but I always felt a bit out of place among them–like I didn’t belong. I was extremely shy when I was young, almost cripplingly so. I’m still a very reserved person, but I’ve gone a long way in coming out of my shell, though admittedly there is still a long way to go.

There was one good friend I had between the ages of about 10 and 14, but we grew apart and he eventually ended up addicted to drugs. From what I hear he’s clean now, but that’s a story for another time. Being that I had no real friends (I had a ton of acquaintances, but no one I would consider a true friend) other than him for a good portion of my life I spent a lot of time inside the worlds I created inside my head. At that point in life I wasn’t a writer and I wasn’t a reader. I read the odd book every now and then, but for the most part I was merely a creator of worlds that I would get lost in for hours–sometimes days on weekends–at a time. I was the kid who sat in the back of the class and didn’t speak unless spoken to, and then my reply was always the shortest possible way out of the conversation. I was happier inside my head than I ever was in reality. The outside world was lonely. The inside was adventure and fun and I could change anything I wanted on a whim. I could slay the dragon. I could get the girl. I could be the god or the destroyer of worlds. Inside, I could do anything.

I was graced with the ability to pick up new things quickly, so I spent most of my time in school daydreaming and somehow still managed to get pretty decent grades. If I had applied myself I probably would have ended up with a scholarship to college. Still, I don’t regret my preference for daydreaming over learning.

Somewhere along the line–I don’t remember when exactly–those daydreams started taking darker, more sinister twists and I fell in love with the idea of monsters. There was a period of time where I even took a stab at drawing some of the monsters living my head, but I still wasn’t a writer. Sadly, those drawings probably found their way into the trash a long time ago.

The actual writing didn’t start until my early days of college, but even then it was short lived. I wrote half a dozen chapters of a novel over the course of a couple months. Then I had to actually start putting in effort to keep my grades decent and graduate on time. College is also when I started reading more for pleasure, rather than because I had to, though there was some of that too. I dove hard into Stephen King and the like and haven’t looked back since. These days I’m reading mostly indie stuff with the occasional big name thrown in. I try to make sure I read at least a few times a week now. Before then I was lucky if I read a few times a month, sometimes a few times a year.

Fast forward to about six years later–about three years ago. I sat down and actually finished writing that novel. It spent a lot of time trying to claw its way out of my head during those six years, but I always pushed it back and told myself I was too busy with life and not talented enough to bother. Mostly I was just afraid of what it might mean to type the words. Now that I’m writing other things I’m kicking myself for not taking that big, scary leap into the unknown and finishing sooner. I’m also thanking myself for not pushing it off even longer. If I’d have waited much longer I likely would have never gone back to it.

That novel is still sitting in that horrendous, ungodly first draft state. I had planned to make changes and rework the parts that I hate (of which there are many), but I haven’t done so yet. I sat down a couple times to attempt just that, but I could never make myself work through it. I don’t know if I ever will. There’s a certain reverence I hold for that piece of work that makes changing it difficult. Not only that, once I opened those flood gates three years ago, the ideas that have been building my entire life have come pouring out and I have so much to write that I almost don’t want to go back and look at the atrocity that is my first novel. Even still, that novel made me a writer. It sparked the desire to do something I never envisioned myself doing. I hated English class when I was in school. I hated rules and grammar. I still do actually, but again, that’s a story for another time.

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This post was written for the Weekly Writing Challenge: Writerly Reflections.

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