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The Words Unspoken, the Melodies Unsung This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Writing a story is like learning a musical instrument. It will challenge you, it will strengthen you, but it will also show you the world from a completely new perspective. They are both forms of self-expression, one shown through strings of words, and another shown through a flowing melody. Both will equip you with useful skills that will help you in both your immediate future and later life. Best of all, they complement each other with the similar skills to learn each hobby: persistence, practice, and passion.

When I first learned to play the piano, I was merely six years old. Every single Thursday afternoon, I’d spend a long car ride with my mom and older sister to a place where I could let out the tense energy in my fingers. At the time, I could only play a note at a time, and they weren’t quite as beautiful to the ear as I hoped, but I only knew to tap on the keys and soak in the music. I hadn’t even considered how low my skill level was until I was older. I’d sit in my room as my older sister would play her songs, and I would simply wonder why her music sounded prettier than mine did. I wanted to improve, but I didn’t want to invest in the work. I wanted instant gratification because of my talent, and I’d only become frustrated when I didn’t immediately see results. That was when I gave up on trying at all in piano. My mom continued to push me to learn the instrument despite my constant rebellion. She’d sit with me and confine me there until I played the tedious songs for thirty straight minutes, and every day was like this. Piano practice often ended with the shedding of tears and the occasional breakage of objects, yet my mom insisted that I played. I think that my pessimistic attitude towards learning piano infected my sisters’ way of thinking, too. My older sister was never one to enjoy piano, but she hadn’t openly expressed her distaste for it. My younger sister began with a fervent passion that was void from her older siblings, but she soon grew to dread practice, too. As years went on, my practice times agreed to a limit of five minutes a week, and they would be the scarce moments before I left the house for lessons. My sisters were much more consistent with their practicing, and for much longer durations. Still, we rarely ever accomplished three and a half hours of practice a week individually. Nine years after I began lessons, the oldest sister left for college and the newest five-year-old daughter rose up to claim her practice times at the glossy black bench. I hadn’t seen the improvement back then, but I can fully admit that Mary’s lamb and French folk songs evolved into Chopin’s Valse and piano’s timeless classics. Even at my age, I still don’t look forward to piano practice, but that was an unfortunate habit earned through my childhood. However, I still play on and continue to develop my talents and the harmonious song that comes with it.

Writing, however, was a much more recent hobby, despite my long history of it. My first story was written when my mom hired a tutor to improve my writing skills. It was called The White House Catastrophe, but looking back, I think my nine-year-old self’s works were the real disaster. I wrote silly stories in fifth grade about talking tacos and magical doors and Alaskan politics, and I rarely wrote recreationally since. Then, in seventh grade, my best friend’s mom told me that I should be a creative writer with my wacky ideas. I stuck one from my craziest dream in an assignment, and I nearly received a perfect score on it. (I was only marked down for the use of profanity.) Then, when I moved schools, another wacky friend collaborated on an idea with me that spawned from a role-play. She drew artwork, and I wrote stories. My friend from church discovered my idea and fell in love with it, so after I drifted from my school friend the idea remained. If it weren’t for that, both the story and my writing passion would be a dissolved memory. Now, I have over a dozen written works at my fingertips, and one is beginning the journey to publication as a novel, the same one I’ve been working on since my silly schoolgirl fantasies spawned the ideas.. I struggled with writing essays when I was young because I’d spend hours slaving away to write a mere two-page summary. Because of my writing passion, I can write that amount in a simple one or two hours of work, and at a much higher quality than I could ever manage. I was able to recognize a talent that I could finally claim as one of my own, and not something clichéd that everyone else did. Greatest of all, it helped me find a way to express myself, to lose the pains of reality in a more fantastical world where anything could happen. It’s a difficult path, though. It’s harder to get recognition, especially since not everyone reads. It takes a stubborn confidence and a complacent mind at the same time when it comes to criticism. Every time I pick up a book, I lose the magic of the words and only view it as a combination of writing techniques. And I cry afterwards because my writing in inadequate compared to the bestsellers. I get frustrated with my work much too often, especially when writer’s block hits. Yet despite that, I continue to write. I let the words flow through my stories, to let me speak to a crowd, even though it’s a small one. In those moments where I continue my stories despite the frustration, that is when I know that I am a writer.

Clearly, I’ve had different approaches when it came to writing and music, but the message is still the same. Both are difficult crafts that require hours of work, yet the end results are always a beautiful craft that people will appreciate for years to come. Everywhere in it, there’s always a place to improve, to become better. Whether you find comfort in art, drama, or even music or creative writing, you will find your passion. All it takes is a closer look, a lot of work, and the quiet fire wishing to speak through you. The flame of passion begins with a spark. Ignite it.

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