Writers should write for themselves. I’ve stated this many times to my peers and teachers alike. Although writers may write to entertain others, it is still for themselves. They like to know someone picked up their work and gave it the time of the day. They like to know someone took their work and laid down in bed with it for a few minutes. They like to know young adults gab about the characters in their story. And they like to know someone spent a buck or two. Writers write for themselves. They write for the inner satisfaction. That is why I am not a writer and why my writing process isn’t sincere.
I do not sit around and fantasize about a character who must go on a quest. I do not conjure up a magical world in which an amazing, epic journey takes place. I get up at 6 AM, shower, drive to school, go to my classes, attend drama practice, do homework, eat something, and go to bed. I live in reality.
When I come to school every morning, I sit down in the commons and check my schedule for the week. My head is full of spinning, groggy nonsense. I usually just sit there and think of nothing but the ensuing doom that is the work load I will receive throughout the day. And I do receive it. Worksheets and projects and papers galore. So much I could dump it on the ground, out of my folders, and recreate a whole tree out of it. I could give a tree life again. I could restore the natural order.
And I work so hard. I work so, so hard.
For one thing.
College . . .
I work so hard for more schooling. A harder education. Four more years of it, to be exact. I spend all my time striving for the green light to attend a university that will send me spiraling into financial debt. This whole process just seems so redundant.
If I had it my way, maybe I would go to college. From my classes, I would learn how to speak really clean Spanish. Meanwhile, I would be working and saving my money. Then, once I got out of college, I would take a train down to South America and evade my student loans. I would change my name and spend my days living a carefree, open-minded life, working in some trash hole restaurant, where the kitchens were stained with grease, but the food was authentic. I could rise in the morning, greeted by the mild sun. The wind would blow on my tanned skin. Maybe I would just keep traveling from place to place. Perhaps I would meet friends in every country and I could stay with them when I visit, if they were so gracious. Maybe I’d lose weight. Maybe. That all certainly sounds like a great novel. But I don’t daydream. And I’m not a writer. So forget that.
That’s what I would do. If I could do it.
But I can’t.
Like I said, I live in reality.
So, I get up at 6 AM, shower, drive to school, go to my classes, attend drama practice, do homework, eat something, and go to bed. So I pump out papers endlessly in the hopes I will pull through the school year with good grades to impress my family and my peers and my teachers. And so I will apply to a nice college and attend classes there. I will work endlessly to pay back my student loans.
Writers should write for themselves. I write for others. Although writers may write to entertain others, it is still for themselves. Although I may write to entertain others, it’s really just to impress them. Writers like to know someone picked up their work and gave it the time of the day. I like to know a teacher picked up my work and graded it in a timely manner. Writers like to know someone took their work and laid down in bed with it for a few minutes. I like to know a teacher checked off all the appropriate boxes I was required to fill. Writers like to know young adults gab about the characters in their story. I like to know young adults are on the same track as me. And writers like to know someone spent a buck or two. I like to know I have a buck or two. Writers write for themselves. I write for others. Writers write for the inner satisfaction. I write for others’ inner satisfaction. That is why I am not a writer and why my writing process isn’t sincere.
There is no process. Just a mad dash to get it written in a satisfactory manner in the hopes it will come back to me with high marks. If that’s not a strong enough image to end on, then please picture a young adult who is typing away on her laptop feverishly, with thoughts of financial doom and existential crisis looming over her in a sadly cartoonish thought bubble over her head.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.