The first time i've written for a long time

November 1, 2008
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As soon as you write something down, it is yours forever. And, if you wanted to, you could show someone else, so they could keep it too. But really, it is yours forever. If anyone ever wants to take it away from you, all you need to do is remember and to remind them that, it is yours forever.

When I was younger, around ten, when I still believed that there was a chance of doing what I wanted whenever I wanted for an entire lifetime, I wanted to be an author. It seemed liberating in a strange way, like somehow one person could tell another a wonderful story that was inspiring, humorous and sorrow stricken but not know. How could you affect someone that much and not know?

So, I wrote my own stories. They were short and they were terrible. I never showed them to anyone because I was not proud of them. I thought they were terrible. But, I loved writing them all the same. I didn’t know too many words and the ones that I did know were spelt incorrectly. I was and will always be a terrible speller. So I wrote my short fault ridden books and told no one. All I told them was that I wanted to be an author. The only story I ever wrote and shared was about a dog I did not know, did not care about and did not invent. His name was Fly and I thought he was good enough because I had seen him on TV. I didn’t even change his name.

Six years later and I share my stories. They are ones about boys with eating disorders, girls who follow strangers and kids that know more than their parents. Excuse me, but I have a mould to break. Sometimes my teacher says, ‘Rachell, this is really not what we are looking for, are you sure you understood the question?’ I shake my head but I actually did. So she smiles and is willing give me another chance. I take that chance but I hand in a piece of paper next time. There is nothing of me on it.

Oscar Wilde is my favourite writer and I have all his books, all his poems and all his plays. I haven’t read all of them and I think I really need to. But I still don’t, because I am scared I will not like him as much after. I have read ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ though. I made it out to be better than it actually was because I saw a review in the paper and it got four stars. However, there is one thing I remember about that story, and it is when the painter, Basil felt that he could not sell his painting, nor could he let it hang in a gallery, because he felt that he had simply put too much of himself in it.

It wasn’t self-consciousness. If that were the problem, he would not paint as well as he does. Painters are brave because they know that anyone can paint and yet they do it. This is how I see writers. Anyone can write. They impress no one, maybe except themselves. Yet they do it. As a ten year old, I did not feel the need to impress anyone, so I wrote for myself. I could not show anyone my stories because I knew that they were small pieces of me. The stories were about boys named Jack who played football and sheep who lost their mothers. My name is not Jack, I have never enjoyed playing or watching football and I am certainly not a sheep. Yet, they were me.

Rejection wasn’t an issue. I was too young to know that people are always polite and too old to think that I was always right. I was reluctant to share because I only had so much in me, I couldn’t afford to lose it to anyone, not even my mother or father, or anyone who would not understand.

Now I write for numbers. Hopefully numbers that will ensure an A. If the numbers are not as high as I would like them to be, which they often are, my spirit does not suffer, I am just disappointed. I do not feel sick because of the pointlessness of the exercise. I am sick because I am failing English.

Of course I do not want to fail so I write as many words as they ask me and I hand them in with no problems. In the very beginning I had some reservations, but now it comes easily, naturally, on a weekly basis. On the piece of paper is not something I wrote with my hands, it is constructed with a ticking machine, by a machine.

For school I wrote a story about how I felt and my teacher gave a worksheet on structure. She said that structure was important and that there needs to be certain sequences, descriptions and lots of showing-not-telling. I knew all of this because I listen in class so I will not fail English. But I was weary. I never thought life had anything to do with a set sequence, I never felt the need to tell someone about the sunsets and the dirt roads because I thought that surely they knew. Had they not opened their eyes on a new morning and had they never walked a trodden path? I had no intention of showing them anything because they would never understand, understand that I have something to say and they are going to ignore it. I had no faith in anyone else and I am tired and selfish.

In short, I was a terrible writer. But, I wrote for myself. The stories were real and the words were me. It amazed me whenever I looked down the page and I understood what they meant and I hoped so dearly that others would too. But, I learnt that they did not want to understand, they wanted requirements met and a showcase of several different sentence structures. They wanted flair and sophistication. I just wanted people to understand that I am tired, but I am true.

Someone I admire went through art school and said that he had lost all desire to create any art. When I write a story, I do it because I am instructed and because I am not all that bad after all if I just follow orders. This year, I wrote a story about a ‘making choices’ and I was sure to include a character description, vivid imagery and to use words that not even I understood. I got an A and the teacher was glad I was making an effort.

I write because I have to and no more. This scares me. My own words are no longer part of me. We do not talk. We never fight. And I feel we understand each other less and less. They are not mine; they are my English teacher’s.

But I am old enough to know that I do not want to abandon this because it would mean abandoning not just a little sliver, but a whole slice of myself. I cannot afford to lose so much after everything else because there will be nothing left and one day I will wake up and feel as if I am only doing things because I have to. I will never be uncomfortable, because no one will ever see me and I am just another girl who succeeds but without a mind and without any intention otherwise. I never wanted that.

Oh. By the way, today it rained and the soft, soothing drops of sky are once again beginning to fall. I know this because though my heavy velvet curtains are drawn, I can hear the familiar echoes of water sliding down the foggy windowpane in no particular hurry. I cannot see them, but I can imagine the trails that the leave, like the trails of the buzzing insects in the trees. If I stop long enough and breathe in slowly, I can sense the rich aroma of the worms doing their job and turning earth. I have always had a keen sense of hearing and smell. My hair is an unforgiving melancholy brown.

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This article has 360 comments. Post your own now!

FluffManiaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Oct. 16 at 10:26 pm
The fact that your teacher ignores the words your heart gives to the world is heartbreaking. Teachers are supposed to not only teach the lesson but also encourage the students to put their own twist on the assignment. By telling you that you have to write in such a way that your words don't even belong to you, your teacher is shoving you in a box that you clearly don't fit in. She should focus less on tailoring your writing to fit her lesson and more on tailing her lesson to fit your writing. Pl... (more »)
never-tire-of-doing-writeThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Aug. 1 at 12:22 pm
I can relate to that. I'm definitely a writer by feeling and I find it hard to write when I can't feel what I write. I've said before that I can't write what I can't feel. It's definitely good to realize the importance of personal writing. This is an amazing article addressing that. Awesome job.
HereSheIsThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 28 at 7:03 am
Yes! A very real and beautiful telling of your writing journey and good job bringing up that English class writing is not real writing
jedjake said...
Sept. 19, 2016 at 9:53 pm
I love it, it is sad and tantalizing, confusing, and yet so true, your words like my words and all words are more you than most know, keep it up girl.
LittleRedDeliriousPrinceThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 1, 2016 at 1:02 pm
This is absolutely brilliant. I have no words to describe how much I agree with everything you said.
FoodSlyer said...
Dec. 8, 2015 at 8:15 pm
I want to send this to my English teacher
thisEmilyda1 said...
Jul. 7, 2015 at 11:55 pm
Everybody raise your hand if you feel the same way. If you don't raise your hand...write some more! :)
ambivalentThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jun. 1, 2016 at 11:17 pm
*raises hand*
Cindy D. said...
Jan. 28, 2015 at 2:37 pm
Perfection! I really love this piece.
LBE23 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 23, 2014 at 2:02 pm
Oh my goodness, this is so perfect! You wrote what every writer feels, but few have the courage to say! 
transparantspirit434 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 22, 2013 at 10:52 pm
Holy goodness... this sounds like it came directly from me. I know my words too. I write for me. Exellent... goodness gracious this was so good... I can't even tell you. Great job!!!
Bluetooth13 said...
Apr. 19, 2013 at 8:48 pm
hey, im pretty new. Please check out my work :)
Imu30 said...
Mar. 31, 2013 at 7:47 am
Wow, this is....amazing..
Riley_ said...
Feb. 19, 2013 at 4:56 pm
Hey - thanks for this.  I really needed to read it at this moment in time because it feels like a reflection of me. Thanks a lot.
caiseyvecilla said...
Feb. 5, 2013 at 6:41 pm
This is an gutsy story. To reveal yourself and the loss of caring about your own voice was powerful. Stay true.
Mundanely said...
Feb. 4, 2013 at 9:34 pm
Chilling, breathtaking, and heartbreaking.
TheSkyOwesMeRain This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 15, 2012 at 1:51 pm
I love it! :) I know how you feel, I don't enjoy writing at school for this reason, because it's all response to literature, and I don't think the essays I write at school are truly mine, just rewordings of whatever is discussed in class. Good job!
CammyS said...
Nov. 30, 2012 at 5:45 pm
I can really relate to this. I sometimes do this, but this year I really like my English teacher. She understands me and she understands my writing. If I try to slap something down on paper to get an A, she won't give it to me. She'll make me work to my actual potential and I love that. But yes, I've had teachers like that in the past and I totally get where you're coming from. 
a.e.always said...
Nov. 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm
This is so true! I agree with pretty much everyhting. I love to write. It's my escape from my realitly to a fantasy that i've always wanted. and those rubrics and rules when given an assignment for english, dosen't let me secape at all. anyway, I love this piece so much. very well written!
HiChanel said...
Nov. 1, 2012 at 12:02 pm
I think this is all something we relate to a one point or another. I like writing for myself these stories no one really like but in class I write things that evry one like but me and that's how I pass English. Great writing. Don't ever stop, even for English.
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