I have been writing for most of my life. The first story I remember writing was heavily inspired by Disney's adaptation of Peter Pan. In those days, when I was only about eight or nine, the writing was just a way for me to express whatever was going on in my imagination.

My first original story, which I have been wrestling with since I was 12, was inspired by a school lesson on The Hero's Journey, a story pattern commonly observed in ancient myths and modern adventure stories. I've been dreaming about that story for so long without producing any results, I wonder if it'll ever be anything more than scattered thoughts, images, concepts, tiny snippets of dialogue.

There's my first grievance with my writing: a lack of direction with my fantasy story. It's frustrating that I can't seem to figure out exactly what the story is, because, without a written story, I have nothing to share. And, for whatever reason, there's nothing I want to do more than share my fantasy story. Despite the lack of direction, though, my underdeveloped fantasy world is my favorite place to visit. When I daydream, my mind imagines that place where anything can happen.

Then there's the story I've "finished," even though it never feels finished. Some people describe writing as a way to address their wounds, and I guess that's what I did with Autograph. Unlike with my fantasy story, Autograph is something I'm afraid to share. On the one hand, it's more important than anything else in the world to me. I poured my deepest, most troubling fears into Jude, the main character. And if I can love him despite his flaws, doesn't that mean I can love myself?

I'm probably afraid somebody will recognize the similarities between me and Jude. Or worse, I'm afraid people would shrug him off as another annoying melodramatic narrator with unrelatable problems.

Autograph was painful to write because I expressed through Jude what I could never express as Ashley. I hoped that if I gave Jude some variation of a happy ending, I could quell those feelings that scare me. And it did help. It does help to have a way to express myself. Still, it's always bizarre when I return to Jude's world, where I have to strain to see the light in the darkness. If I ever chose to publish the book, I know I would have to go back and read where I had been. And if I were asked to write more, I would have to go back to a place I fear.

Nevertheless, there is a great deal of importance in a story like Autograph. There's a certain moral obligation to share fiction with an authentic heart.

Maybe now you understand why writing is so complex to me. It's a hobby and a form of self-expression and a moral obligation. Maybe by writing these articles for you, I'll grow past the hardships I face when writing.