One of my favorite leisure activities as a child was writing my own stories. I loved to make up my own world out of a figment of my imagination, craft a piece about some alternate universe that I wished I could be a part of. When I was younger, this was just a simple pastime, rewriting the classic tales about dragons and princesses or just describing the scenery around me.
As I grew older, fiction writing became less of a casual activity and more of an escape. When I began to drown in the stress from an upcoming assignment, my journal would be my life vest. It was not just a release from the daily pressures of teenage years, but a method of survival. I needed to write in order to keep myself sane. I wanted to release all of my emotions on the page, close up the notebook and hide the angst away within the smudged ink.
By the time I entered my closing years of high school, I no longer had enough free time to write purely for pleasure. All of my pieces became analyses of novels and essays regarding the crises in third-world countries. Even if I had a moment to breathe during the day, I did not have the mental capacity to search for my journal and jot down my thoughts. For about two years, I did not write a polished creative piece.
When I finally entered college, I was interested in rediscovering my passion. I was not planning on becoming an author (although this was indeed my childhood fantasy), but I knew I had to take writing courses as a general education requirement. I enrolled in a fiction writing course, thinking the classroom environment could encourage me to find my voice.
After the first class, we were assigned to write a creative piece about anything we desired. Of course, I originally wished for some kind of prompt or guidance. However, with some time to reflect, I came to the conclusion that the freedom could actually be beneficial for me. I could look through my old notebook and find a past piece for inspiration, or just brainstorm something completely out of my comfort zone to experiment with.
I opened a blank document on my computer screen, excited for this journey to begin. I was going to write again. I could improve both academically and personally through revisiting the activity that once consumed me.
One hour went by staring at an empty white abyss.
"Just write the first thing that pops into your mind," I thought to myself.
Oranges? No, I can't do anything with oranges.
Cherries? No, that might get too sensual too quickly.
Why could I only think of fruit?
I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this, that I could write again creatively. I tried to brainstorm, but none of my ideas seemed worthy enough.
That was the problem: I wanted an idea that was complete, well thought-out, virtually flawless. I expected myself to be able to dive right in like I once could, but I was out of practice. This piece wasn't meant to be some impeccable masterpiece, it was meant to be coherent enough to workshop with fellow students.
Eventually, I was able to bang out a few sentences one day and continue with the idea the next until I arrived at something that almost resembled a story. It was by no means sophisticated, and it was not necessarily something I was proud of. But it was something I could bring to class, something I could potentially improve.
After taking a break from creative writing, it's difficult to get back into it without a few slip-ups. Not everything you make has to be up to the standards of your old pieces. I have to learn to be gentle with myself as I rebuild my skills. I have to find a source of inspiration, and I still need to obtain my personal voice.
I always hesitated to call myself a "writer." I thought the title was too bold for someone who just enjoyed sketching out storylines. Perhaps being a writer isn't about creating magic, it's just about making something that is authentic and satisfactory. Maybe I'm not a writer yet then, but I may be making my way there.
Hopefully, my fellow classmates and professor will recognize this and accept my story for what it is: a work in progress. I just hope none of them are allergic to citrus.