The Highway to my Soul This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Three novels. I have written three novels, and no one has ever seen any of them. I printed out the first one, jealously watched the printer as sheet after sheet of paper streamed out, then I put all the sheets in a folder, tied it shut, and put it under my bed. I didn’t even print out the other two.

My writing is the key to my soul. The more I write, the more I develop my voice, and my voice is myself. My voice is a diamond buried at the center of miles upon miles of hard, crusted stone. Every time I write, I am chipping away at the rock. Every second I live, I am getting closer to the diamond. I do not know what it looks like. It may be polished and faceted or wild and rough. I hope it will be beautiful.
*

Writing became my fulcrum in middle school, when I moved from DC to Stockholm, Sweden. I was disoriented, lost, floating in that base instinct: fear. My family and I had moved at the very moment that I began my adolescence. Having always been averse to change, these two huge, simultaneous changes shattered my previous, happy life.

School was my prison. From the first day, I was friendless, and I didn’t seek to make friends. Between classes, I would stand by one of the school’s wide windows, leaning on the window-ledge and glaring out at the cold.
One day, as I was standing there, I slowly exhaled on the pane. The freezing glass grabbed my breath, cloaking itself greedily with the fog. I could hear life and friendship and laughter behind me, but I crouched in my sweatshirt, staring at the eternal shell of steel above me. “Is anyone up there? Does He hear me?” I wondered. I leaned forward gently and breathed again on the glass. Before my white breath faded, I traced HELP in the mist with my fingers. As the days went by, I wrote HELP on every window I came to. After a week, I would breathe on a portion of glass only to see the ghost of my word resurface, taunting me with my own plea. I would quickly wipe it out and find another cold slate. My mute shouts rang from every window in the school. They clamored and screamed my case to the heavens. They stood; glaring invisible graffiti for the eyes of someone I wasn’t even sure existed. No help came.
Then a friend mentioned her hobby to me in passing, and a savior pulled me away from my solitude with both hands, stood me on my feet, and armed me against my depression: I had found writing.

When I wrote, I was a builder. I watched my fingers spasm on the keyboard, and a magnificently new being appeared on the screen. After months of tearing myself down, I treasured the power and healing that writing brought. I watched, entranced, as chapter after chapter was born from my constant labor. The words became my children. I formed them in my mind, siphoned them to the screen, and watched as they interacted and transmutated from words into my saviors. I cared deeply about my characters; I felt like they cared for me. They replaced the human connections I had shattered and gave me reason to feel tenderness and pride again. I went to bed each night hoping, dreaming, growing, smiling. The novel I was writing was for a program called National Novel Writing Month, which had a time limit of a month. The focus and concentration of the task gave me purpose. I no longer saw myself as invisible; I was powerful: I had a goal and the enamored focus to pursue it. I opened like a flower at the gentle, encouraging touch of writing. I soaked myself in it and it revived me.
I had reacted to the pain of moving by hurling rock onto my voice, suffocating myself, keeping it from channeling any path to my soul. But every time my fingers moved on pen or keyboard, mountains of rock exploded within me. I opened myself to writing and it transformed my voice.
*
I realized even then that I would never look at that novel; I still fear rereading it. It is not the quality of the work that deters me; it is the glaring, scared, powerless person I see reflected in the words. What I wrote summarized my mental state perfectly. Every contour of the imperfect colossus I shaped bears the obvious touch of my hand. I do not want to be reminded of what I was. I do not want to face the darkness and the fear that saturated my soul, and whose vestiges still taint me.
Every word I have written is my portrait, and in it I see my soul at the moment I wrote it. Sometimes, my words are so deeply personal that I fear if someone were to read them, they would be as much in control of my mind as I am.
*
I have not yet completely found my voice. The rock remains, heavy and thick and cloying, over the diamond. My experiences continue to chip diligently at the stone, bringing me closer each day to my voice’s true nature. Only when I have discovered my voice will I be able to use it to uncover my soul. I look for my voice in writing, so I hide my writing from the world. I fear that someone will discover my voice before I do. It will take time even for me to discover my voice. Although the mere fact of writing brings me closer to it, I will only dissolve the final skin of rock when I examine my writing. However, I am afraid to dissect my writing. The little potency my voice has shows me more of my soul than I would like. I am afraid that I will embrace this shadow of my soul only to find it a snarling, fearful shade. I have reached a deadlock: the only way to become conscious of my soul is by discovering my voice; the only way to discover my voice is to examine my writing; I do not examine my writing for fear of my soul; I will stop fearing my soul when I become fully conscious of it.
*

In Sweden, writing saved my life. Now, when I feel restrained, I remember my depression, lethargy, hopelessness, and hatred then. And I turn to my computer. And I write.





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