A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.
101. How writing has changed your life.
When I was in the third grade, we were assigned a writing project. I can’t recall exactly what the project was, but it involved writing a short story and binding it into a little book using construction paper and string. I wrote a story called “The Mystery of the Emerald-Eyed Cat” and while I can’t recall precisely what the plot of the story was, I remember that I bound it in green construction paper and that I drew mean-looking cat eyes on the cover. I also remember that I signed my name on the front with an extra middle name that doesn’t actually exist, but hey…kids are weird.
Anyway, I remember my teacher at the time, Mr Power, telling me how good the story was and that I should write more. Looking back, he was obviously just being a sweet, encouraging teacher, but at the time I took him at his word it was pretty much then and there that I decided I wanted to be a writer.
My writing continued on throughout grade school with my best friend and I writing what we called “The Game Masters”. They were two separate series’ with the same basic plot, one written by each of us. They had the same characters, but in my series I was the main character, and in hers she was the main character. We would write our stories in those thin, crappy scribblers that little kids get for school, and whenever we each had a full chapter or so we would exchange and read each others’. It was great fun, and though I’d probably cringe terribly to read those stories now, they seemed pretty damn awesome at the time.
From there on my writing has waxed and waned due to any number of reasons, but I’ve always returned to it. I wrote nonsensical mini-stories in junior high school, fanfiction in high school, slash fanfiction in college, and eventually returned back to original fiction over the past 10 years or so. In the past couple of years I finished my first original piece, start to finish (minus the editing part), and I am currently in sight of the finish line for my second original piece.
So you see, writing has been a part of my life for a long time. As to how it has changed my life?
On the negative side, writing has definitely made my life more stressful over the past few years. It’s difficult to work a writing schedule around a full-time job and a husband and child, and even thinking about doing so makes writing feel more and more like work, which I hate. Writing is something I love to do, so I have to struggle hard not to let it become one of those things that I have to do and dread to do. I would love to be able to write for a living, but I never want writing to become a job, and sometimes when I’m trying to force myself to write a few paragraphs in camp after I’ve worked a 12-hour shift, that’s exactly what it feels like.
But on the positive side of things, writing has kept me sane all these years. No matter what else was going on in my life, I could always write. When I had a fight with a friend as a child, when I was a ridiculously awkward teenager, when I experienced heartbreak, when I had doubts about my future…whenever something frustrating was happening in my life, I still had writing. Some people escape into books written by others, but I’ve always been able to escape into stories written by myself. I can pour my feelings out into my characters when I don’t know what to do in real life. I can torture my characters to make myself feel better, or give my characters the world for the same reason. I can twist reality exactly as I see fit, which is even more satisfying than you might imagine. Writing, for me, has always been one of the most cathartic things I can do. It keeps me from punching holes in the wall and screaming until my voice gives out. It is my Valium.
So I guess, what you could say, is that writing has changed my life by helping to prevent me from becoming a violent lunatic, because I can just write violent lunacy instead! That sounds sane, right? Right?