I absolutely love that when I write something it's like connecting the dots so people can see the pictures I see in my head (oddly I'm a very visual person despite my penchant for text). I don't know what I would do if I couldn't write; it is so much a part of me. I decided when I was twelve that I was going to grow up and be a famous poet, which I knew was a ridiculous goal because poets totally aren't famous these days. But I liked the idea anyway, so I gave over more and more time to poetry in my life.
I started giving up other hobbies, like drawing and computer games, to focus on reading more poetry. I even plowed through the collected works of Anne Bradstreet, Alexander Pope and Elizabeth Barrett Browning when I was 16 and 17 which is just not normal teenage behavior. I spent hours writing hundreds of nature and philosophical poems, most of which no one has ever seen and never will see since I've destroyed them all. Some of them were good, but most were crap.
I also wrote my first personal essay when I was 12, about being the inadvertent cause of death for a cat, which was definitely a sign of things to come. But I didn't write anything like that again until I got to college, where I revelled in being a creative writing major. It was worth it to leave the state and everyone I knew to get that degree (stupid MO only offers English and Journalism), because it totally informed so much about who I am and how I think.
Studying the creative writing process gave me a unique view into the workings of the mind and the interactions between the conscious, subconscious and collective unconscious. So much so that I can treat my unconscious like a team player in my thought and creative process - anytime there's something I can't figure out I'm just like "hey, unconscious, why don't you give this a whirl?" and it never fails to give me some new connection and insight I forgot I knew.
At this time I had moved away from writing poetry a little and had broadened my range to short stories. That was my focus and I wrote a collection of short stories for my thesis, but I was also writing poetry and what we at Behrend called "creative non-fiction," which I used as a conduit for all the emotional issues I was having (and pretty much ignoring otherwise). It was a life-changing and constantly humbling experience to have constant critical feeedback on everything I wrote. Extremely eye-opening and it helped me stop using some of the crappy little quirks I had picked up (my thesis director kept calling it "cheating") and forced me to find a voice of my own.
In fact, I often feel that the only reason I can talk well is because of that experience. Never mind the writing side of it, constantly debating literature taught me how to communicate an idea clearly and to navigate conversation in a way I'd never been able to do. I wasn't exactly a mute as a kid, but I certainly never said more than I needed to since anything I said could and would be used against me if some other kid decided to be super "religious" (aka bitchy) one day and turn you in for something to the thought police.
At first I used writing as a replacement for my voice and eventually it led me to creating one.
Plus, being able to create something out of nothing is an incredible experience that can be absolutely euphoric, although normally, it's just a little glow of contentment in my belly. Add to that the instant gratification factor of self-publishing in a venue where people actually read it, and I'm one happy blogger.
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