For the first assignment of my Creative Writing Form & Theory course, my professor instructed us to read an essay by George Orwell. Simply, the essay give insight onto the reasons Orwell writes and what ignites his urge to do so.
The correlating assignment the class was instructed to do next was write a similar essay on what inspires us to write or read. Essentially, the topic was what inspires us personally to interact with words and literature.
Here is my essay, from beginning to end, that is of the original version of a piece to be perfected and revised in a number of iterations.
My first story was an awful one. The theme was thought-provoking, but had surely been the premise of many other stories. After all, the theme of how everyone is different is far from a new and original thought. And characters who are animals with human functions and qualities is not groundbreaking either. Many children’s picture books can prove that fact if you check the shelves at any local bookstore.
I was in second grade when I wrote my first chapter book. It was short, only adding to fifty or sixty pages. Still, it was certainly an impressive feat for a six or seven year old. The memory of a stiff, exhausted hand remains permanent in my mind. Abundant trips from bedroom to kitchen to sharpen the number two occurred consistently. It was a sign the story was progressing well.
Each chapter had been sloppily scrawled in a lined notebook, which had eventually gotten tossed in the garbage. They say you should always keep your work, no matter how stellar or lackluster, regardless of where or when it was written. But I never liked the less-than-masterpieces on my conscience longer than necessary. A writer shared with me once, that it was an “ego thing.”
Nonetheless, the story was my first and what I had quickly come to find wasn’t nearly my last. My fondness of the written word continued to flourish, but one main event in my life was the catalyst for the passion, the constant urge to write and create. It led me into a deeper interest with words and how they sound when strung together in a sentence. It made me appreciate the formation words can take and how a shift in placement can create meaning, a feeling, an insanely intense emotion. With the right handful of words, they can simply express anything. But it wasn’t until later in my life in which I truly hunkered down with writing and became more absorbed in the craft.
Over the course of the next four years, I found myself come face to face with a life-altering battle. It was an unexpected challenge in what would inconvenience my daily lifestyle immensely as I grew older. I had become diagnosed with two incurable diseases. The amount of time between both diagnoses was minimal and the days, weeks, months of illness ensued for much longer than that. The doctors informed me that I had two autoimmune diseases; Type 1 Diabetes and Crohn’s Disease. The news came quickly and sharply, something hard to comprehend and believe. Because it is human nature for us to think it will never happen to us, until it does. And even then, our mind struggles to get used to the idea.
My pancreas had given up on me, refusing to feed and replenish my body with the proper insulin it so direly needed. Now, manual blood glucose monitoring and insulin dosing had to be added to the check-list of my daily life. I was forced to tune into the subtle signs my body would signal, just like a traffic light. Shaky hands, blurred vision; low blood sugar. Increased body temperature, a pang of nausea; high blood sugar. Paying attention to these signals helped me to focus in and notice the smaller details of life, a situation, an idea, whether real or imagined. Noticing the tinier factors is important when capturing and describing a particular scene in a story.
But I know for a fact it was more than just that. Maybe the first diagnosis was only the introduction, the greeting of an entire new way of life as well as the first step in recognizing my obsession with words and the power a story has to captivate. Before, I only enjoyed the freedom that came with writing and being fully in control of every aspect.
When it came to my Crohn’s Disease, I had eventually discovered more reasons of why I loved writing so much and why it was so important in my life. I was sick with Crohn’s for two full years of my life before doctor’s had found me the right treatment and medicine, dipping back into normalcy.
During those two years, the mornings were always early as the stomach pain creeped in, always unwanted. From my bedroom, I could hear my parents alarm clock. It was always streaming a particular radio station. Often, the same songs would play and I had been starting to memorize the lyrics. I admit, I had never really been into music before this point in time. It just wasn’t high interest of mine, though, during these two years, fifth grade to sixth grade, it was different. My ears were beginning to align with lyrics and the sounds of a song. It was something nice and I admired it. The words that were being sung with superimposed instruments started to appeal to me. It was a nice distraction from the routine of stomach pain and intake of one pill and powder packet after another, none of which worked to improve my health in the least bit.
Hearing One Republic’s Apologize and Secrets, Taylor Swift’s Love Story and White Horse, and Coldplay’s Paradise were the tunes I recall most distinctly. This influenced me to listen to the radio more, wanting to find my own stations and uncover new artists, songs, and genres. Each day, I exposed myself to more stations and became a frequent streamer. Developing a consistent pattern, I found what I liked musically and what wasn’t my exact preference. From this point onward, I had become intrigued by the way words sound and what they can suggest when paired with other words.
Moreover, I had spent a lot of long afternoons tucked in bed, missing nearly one hundred days of school and one hundred days of friends. Those afternoons did allow me to read copious amounts of books. The words and its plot was the perfect escape from my own life. I had become obsessed with the power a single story could hold, how immersive it can be. It was those moments of jumping into another world, leaving behind the reality that I knew, even if it was just for a few minutes.
The older I got, the more evolved my book list became. What I enjoyed and what I tried to avoid changed too. I eventually became more willing to explore other genres and dabbled with stories by authors who were new to me. Finally, I came across the story that I would soon discover would stick with me forever, emotionally and artistically. That book goes by the name of The Great Gatsby.
I like to think, only if F. Scott Fitzgerald would approve of the comparison, that his style is similar to mine. In the past year, after enduring a solid two months of no interaction with writing, the break gave me a chance to reflect and recognize who I was as a writer and what my personal style and voice suggests. I labeled my writing as poetic, colorful, with the right dose of alliteration. Various sentences of The Great Gatsby were charming and poetic. Color played a significant role in the novel as well, satisfying my obsession with colors and all-things flashing and dazzling. Though, it was more than just the words that impressed me. It was the theme in which can be abstracted, pulled, and tugged to fit one’s life. Because, in the end, we all have that one thing that thrives off of the hope. Each person has that one thing they constantly strive for and one day hope to reach, never ever letting it go.
The green light.
The green light is something my mind often wanders to when I slam against writing “walls.” When the words are merely a trickle and I am only writing for the sake of it, the text failing to mean anything. I know eventually the writer’s block will subside, because I can see the light, flashing in green. I know, at some point, sooner or even later, that my writing will no longer trickle, but cascade like a waterfall.
I guess, when it comes down to it, my life story of growing up is a main contributor to why I write. I write to immerse myself in full control and artistic freedom. I look forward to the cramped hand and routine motion of sharpening a pencil, because to me, it all just feels right. I believe words are a beautiful thing, both spoken, sung, and written. I yearn to create beautiful sentences. I write to be taken to new places and spaces and I want the chance to take my readers there with me.
Most importantly, though, I write because I am a writer.
Like a thumbprint, it is my identity.
Ask yourself, why do you write?
Thank you for reading this essay-blog!