Even though I've always read lots of books, I only wrote short stories. When I was growing up, I used to think that books had to be a certain way. The main thing was that they had to be long, between 20 and 30 chapters. I couldn't understand why I couldn't make my work long enough to be a book.
I didn't really think I had any kind of story to tell. I just wrote about what I wanted: to find love. I didn't even read a lot of romance books. I didn't know how people fell in love. Movies and music talked about love, but only after the fact of love occurring. It wasn't explained what it was or how to get there. Love is my ultimate forbidden fruit.
I wrote my very first story in the fourth grade. I was relentlessly teased by my peers growing up — switching schools made no difference — I was still called the same names. So I wrote a story advising kids to stand up to those who tease them.
The drawings were laughable, the "content" (if one could've called it that) was completely juvenile and silly. Yet, I was so proud of myself for writing something that looked like a book. I knew then that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.
After that, my stories were based on falling in love with popular and unattainable high school guys. When I didn't feel like writing a whole story, but still wanted to express my feelings, I started writing poetry as well. I have a poetry book that gave me the basic format for writing poetry. I've pretty much stuck to that guide ever since — except the rhyming.
I graduated from a performing arts high school. For years I majored in drama. And though we read excellent plays and learned the basics of putting a play together, it wasn't writing.
I wanted to improve my stories and write more poetry. I begged one of the English teachers to find a way to make writing an official major at our school. Of course I was met with a lot of naysaying.
"Everyone can write! That's not a talent!"
"Who would want to major in that?"
However, I wrote a short story based off a random prompt, and was one of the first few to be accepted into the creative writing program. My graduating class was the first class to graduate having creative writing majors.
One of the first things I learned was to not rhyme anymore! It was sad I lost that skill though because it’s actually extremely difficult to do, and I would've liked to have continued challenging my command of language that way. But the four years I spent as a creative writing major opened my eyes to the real possibility that maybe I could be a writer someday.
My stories became longer, more involved, and erotic. The characters didn't seem so one dimensional anymore. The chapters become longer. I gathered the courage to let my friends read some of them. I would reread poems I wrote and not believe I had wrote something like that. I started editing old stories and editing as I wrote new stories.
It took me half to a whole semester to write a story, so sometimes I'd write more than one story at a time. I threw away the first story I ever wrote about teasing.
I remember planning my future writing corporation. I had a vision board full of all the services I'd offer, and a personal list of achievements. First I would graduate high school, then get my Bachelor’s in English, then get a Master’s in English, then get a PhD in English. I'd know every word in the world and be super qualified to run my business and help others.
Of course as reality and life caught up to my imagination, all my dreams fell away. Who becomes a famous writer only writing poetry and short stories? Especially stories about love and sex? I idolize Emily Dickinson but this isn't the 1800s anymore where poets and playwrights and essayist's ruled the world with their words. This isn't the early 1900s where the poets and writers of the Harlem Renaissance gave notice to the words and stories of people of color.
I was on my own.
I sometimes think that because there's few that have currently found success the way I want to that perhaps the whole dream is not attainable. I don't want nor do I need to be overflowing in money to be considered successful. I just want to live comfortably doing what I love. Sharing my desires in a creative way. Helping others do the same. That's all I want. I also fear that maybe people were right and writing isn't a real talent.
My high school had artists, singers, dancers, instrumentalists, actors, they even added photography as a major (which was met with the same naysaying my major received). Writers didn't seem to fit into such a talented set of people. Yet year after year, I still plug away. Hoping that one day I'll run into the successful woman I always wanted to be and become her.