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The first time i've written for a long time


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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 350 comments. Post your own!

seriously? said...
Feb. 1, 2009 at 5:16 am:
ok, are you serious about this? i have no idea how this has been number 1 for such a long time--no offense--but it's one of the worst pieces i've read on this site. keep working on it, rachell, some of your other work is better
 
aivilo replied...
Nov. 3, 2009 at 4:38 pm :
oh, are you kidding? at least give constructive criticism! how would you like it if i read a story of yours, or saw something or yours, and said it was the worst i'd ever seen? does that feel good? no? i didn't think so.
 
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froggy13 said...
Jan. 25, 2009 at 9:00 pm:
Wow, I really really liked this. When i went to read it I wasn't sure I'd read the whole thing, but I just couldn't stop. I agree with every single thing you said--I have done the exact same thing! I wrote stories when I was little and believed it would just be so easy to be an author. Alas, reality strikes! My favorite part of your entire article was the last paragraph. I really liked how it was so sarcastic, underlining everything you complained about (rightly so) and just smooshed it al... (more »)
 
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MyWrittenProposal said...
Jan. 18, 2009 at 11:20 pm:
Beautiful. I find it utterly amazing how true this piece of work really is. Up until now, I've gone through school getting straight A's on most every report card I have received, and my English teachers have always taken a particular interest in me due to my passion for the arts, writing specifically. However, recently I've discovered I am not doing so well in many of my classes in which writing assignments have been given during the past nine weeks. I don't consider myself to be a horrible ... (more »)
 
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dule_91 said...
Jan. 18, 2009 at 1:10 pm:
This was unusually nice, especially because you just put down everything you felt and that's what makes your story great!
- dushan
 
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alvin026 said...
Jan. 16, 2009 at 3:09 am:
ill keep it short and sweet. the ending made me smirk pretty bad. great piece of work.
 
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brittyd11 said...
Jan. 15, 2009 at 2:21 pm:
 
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alice t. said...
Jan. 14, 2009 at 3:07 am:
i loved it
i've been reading random pieces on this site today and this is my fav
it was so insightful and honestly, the type of thing i write, lol sorta my style too:) though u intimidated me with the sheer mastery
then i read some of the comments and i can't understand how some of them just didn't seem to get it
but seriously
thanks so much for this
i'll treasure this piece of you
 
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laughwithtears said...
Jan. 13, 2009 at 11:20 pm:
I really love this article, because, though I have ssen a few people have left comments about how it's going around in circles and takes a while to get to the point, this article is true.
I, too, wrote long stories that were bad as a child. I've had teachers who told me I wasn't following structure. I had a librarian for a mother, though, so writing according to their structure wasn't so much of a problem. This year, I am lucky because I have a teacher who threw out the structure sheet ... (more »)
 
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Dorian Gray said...
Jan. 13, 2009 at 10:53 pm:
You're right when you say that you're not too great a writer-- you definitely have lots of room to improve. I can see how this piece could be turned into something beautiful and genuine, despite the extremely cliche "theme". I'm sorry to say that you did not pull it off.
 
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rcs<333 said...
Jan. 12, 2009 at 11:43 pm:
wow--great job rachell--i can totally relate. i was wondering if you could read and comment on my article: dancing barefoot--here's a link: [ TeenInk.com/raw/Nonfiction/article/74046/Dancing-Barefoot/ ]TeenInk.com/raw/Nonfiction/article/74046/Dancing-Barefoot/
thank you so much--this really was GREAT!!
 
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claudia30 said...
Jan. 8, 2009 at 12:01 am:
I love it... i can relate .... there are english teachers that do make you open your eyes to writing , but there are others that stick to the rules and to being in structure, that isn't always good...I've had both
 
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Mattisthe1 said...
Jan. 7, 2009 at 12:04 pm:
Alright, to all of you who are freaking out about the last paragraph, I think this is what Rachel meant. Her whole article was about her having to fit in with the structure, to be over-descriptive and symbolic. She might have thrown it in there as a sarcastic ending to the article, since she was talking about her English teacher giving her bad grades for being true and creative. Just a thought.
 
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princess september said...
Jan. 5, 2009 at 4:18 pm:
hi rachell, i really liked your article. i can really relate to them. i especially liked the last paragraph; beautifully written. an amazing read!
 
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Cassie said...
Jan. 2, 2009 at 5:17 pm:
I absolutely enjoyed reading this, and couldn't agree more. In all my previous English classes, I was taught to write by rote, by formula, until I became so seperated from my own voice and words that writing became disorienting for me, if I wanted to write for myself or even class. I was conflicted between what I had been taught and what I felt I needed to write.
Happily now, the class I'm in right now, is almost entirely free form with how we approach our pieces, and I'm learning to find... (more »)
 
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Kubick said...
Dec. 30, 2008 at 5:27 pm:
Careful-
Writing is not doing whatever you want and throwing your thoughts onto a page, but learning how to create something beautiful within the structure-- that way, when you break it, it is that much more meaningful.
 
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dmcnn said...
Dec. 24, 2008 at 2:29 am:
Simply amazing.
 
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Madeline L said...
Dec. 24, 2008 at 12:07 am:
At first when I began to read this, I thought, this is horrible, it has bad structure, bad style, it goes in circles. Then I opened my eyes and actually read what you were saying, and I can relate to what you're going through. All through life I wrote because I had to. I wrote for grades, for A's. But in seventh grade, I got an english teacher that opened my eyes, made me remember that writing can't be taught, that writing is a way to express yourself and no one can take that away. I listen... (more »)
 
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the_pen_is_mightier said...
Dec. 23, 2008 at 5:42 am:
This is an amazing piece!

I relate completely.

I hate the "formula writing" they force down our throats at school so we can pass that standardized test. They suck the art and inviduality out of every work. Creativity is confined and, for some, stifled.

Keep on writing! The sincerity and honesty in your writing is beautiful and rare.
 
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Kwstar said...
Dec. 19, 2008 at 1:52 am:
I loved your piece, and I totally agree that writing should be about expressing ourselves and not letting anyone take away that. I believe the last paragraph was perfect it brought the piece to a beautiful end, and you having brown hair made perfect sense to me. Keep writing, and I will keep reading!
 
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MkM said...
Dec. 14, 2008 at 12:00 am:
I really enjoyed your piece. I think it's beautiful. You can tell when reading this that you just sat down and wrote what you felt, which is what makes great writings. I find that with just a bit of editing, this could really be a moving, so make sure you always edit!
P.S.- As a student myself, I can really relate to the angst you have over lack of inspiration. A lot of the time high school teachers base their lessons on just the curriculum, but they fail to see that the lackluster respon... (more »)
 
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