Writing is my real-time response to feeling. Sometimes it’s text message rants to my best friend about my perceived meaning of life. Like when that screwed up old white guy killed fifty-eight people in my hometown on the festival grounds that my friends and have been to countless times so I had to write my way back into a headspace of hope. Sometimes my stream of consciousness falls into my notes app in the form of a half-written song that I may or may not ever read again. Like when my friends and I drove through rural Virginia with the convertible top down. No video can capture the way your limbs tingle when the car pulls to a stop at the end of a long drive. The way your hair feels like it’s floating when it’s really just matted at the top of your head. The way your mind, body, and soul all feel lighter. Other times it’s scribbles in the corner of my math textbook when I get too anxious to pay attention in class or a funny moment that’s interesting enough to tweet but somehow not specific enough to illicit the response I’m looking for from the "Salmonella is a Myth" group chat.

My favorite part about writing is that it glorifies your pain. I take these messy little blurbs of emotion that happen in public and I turn it into something whole when I’m in private. There’s something very comforting to me in knowing that my creation will inevitably be more beautiful than the way I felt inside. No matter how ugly and raw it spills onto the page, it will always be better. More validating. Vulnerably real yet easy to hide behind. After all, isn’t that what happens with romanticized artists century after century? We connect with the deep, emotional, usually kind of depressing shades they use, but we’re not as concerned about why they see in these colors, much less if we’re supposed to do something about it.

But when you write about something ugly and you make it pretty, your audience sees their ugly as pretty too. I think that’s the gratifying part. You write about that guy who ran you in circles and sure enough there’s a girl out there who is also running in circles but now she realizes how ridiculous is it that she’s even running at all. So she stops. Or you write about the moment you came back to yourself and sure enough there’s a guy out there who needed something, or someone to bring him back to himself too. It’s connection. Simple yet complicated. Pure yet severely intricate, but beautiful. Oh, so beautiful. Because what could ever be more striking than human connection through the one thing that makes you feel like you know what the hell you’re doing for once? So, I write to make sense of it for myself and I write for when they can’t make sense of it for themselves. I write because I want to and I write because I need to. Writing is my hobby. Writing is my passion. Maybe someday writing will be my job, but writing will always be the funnel in which my emotions turn into lessons, the voice inside my head forcing me to grow, and the strength I need when it’s too early in the day to go home and hide under the covers. My real-time response to feeling.