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To a writer
Do you know what it's like to be an aspiring writer?
A better question: Do you know what it's like to be an aspiring writer in high school?
To some, there may not be much of a difference between the two questions. Only a change in environment, right? Well, to a writer, environment can mean everything. That's no exaggeration either.
In high school, your environment can pretty much be summed up as a stand still. You drag yourself to all your different classes, sometimes keeping a smile on your face and sometimes, on your darker days, showcasing a scowl that seems to keep everyone away from you. That's fine though.
To a writer, solitude is not loneliness.
Solitude is opportunity.
You daydream. Perhaps, you imagine stories of such splendor that they would probably leave a Hollywood special effects crew dumfounded on where to begin. However, that might not be what's on your mind today as you're stuck in an unbearable math class. Maybe a simpler, more personal thought persists in your mind, and you begin to imagine an emotional scene.
To a writer, the conflict you're putting your character through is a curiosity. In ways, you're along for the ride just as much as your future readers are. Some resolutions can't be thought of ahead of time. Only in the flash of a single moment can you determine what your character would do in certain situations, because, strangely enough, you're still doing your best to get to know him or her.
Getting to know your character is extremely important to you. Contrary to what you've read, you don't believe that plot is what drives the story, although it definitely helps.
To a writer like you, a well developed character is what drives the story.
Finally, it's time to write.
The beginning has to be perfect, you tell yourself. If you don't catch the reader's attention in those first few paragraphs then it doesn't matter how well you write afterward. Why? Well, that's because it won't be read and that, to a writer, is your worst nightmare.
You choose your words carefully, being sure to account for every detail. Not too many details though. You don't want to be wordy and lose your audience. It's hard work, but at the end of the week, you finish your first chapter.
To any new writer, this is an achievement and you're no exception.
You celebrate by getting your first full night of sleep since before you began the project. It's a marvelous gift to yourself, but, in the morning, you're all business once again. You're just dying to know what other people may think of your work!
Still, there's that devil in the back of your mind. A devil that clouds your head with self doubt and fear of rejection. So, to play it safe, the first person you allow to read your work is the one person that you know you can trust.
To anyone else this may seem pathetic, but to you – a writer – you believe that baby-steps are necessary to fulfilling your dream.
Anticipation clogs your veins like plaque before a heart attack. Your mother finally reads all six pages of your “masterpiece” and, much to your delight, gives you the green light. She loved it! The wait is over and you've never felt more confident about your first chapter.
To a writer, this is a huge confidence builder, although you're not satisfied yet.
After all, that was just your mother's opinion.
Now, you allow your best friend to read your writing piece. He or she takes forever to read it and you begin to wonder if they really are or not. In the end, though, your best friend finishes and gives you the thumbs up as well. He or she isn't exactly as enthusiastic about it as your mother was, but you appreciate the time they took to read it and thank them wholeheartedly anyway.
To a writer, this can be seen as the sign of a wake-up call to come.
You begin to seek other opinions, because, frankly, you feel that this is the only way people will understand you. Your heart, your soul, and your own attitude toward life can be found in your writing. It's the only way you truly know how to express yourself. You're an introvert, after all. Communicating through “normal” means isn't exactly your thing.
That doesn't mean that you don't want to communicate, though.
To a writer, people are an inexhaustible form of inspiration.
You need them.
That's why it irks you when the next people you let browse your writings barely show any interest in them. They're not even done with the chapter when they hand it back to you and offer only a single word.
This annoys you at first, almost pushing you to anger. You never reach that emotion though, because, soon you realize that it's not their fault. You're the writer. It's your job to entertain the reader. If your readers aren't interested in your story, then you're not doing your job right.
To a writer, this is the moment you reach a new understanding.
You realize that you may need people, but, the sad truth is, they don't need you. You're a writer, something most teenagers don't appreciate these days. After all, why do people need writers when movie stars and impressive explosions fill television screens all over the world? You can now vividly hear the conversations in class that you ignored before, simply because you didn't want to face up to the fact then.
“Who reads anymore?”
This single truth depresses you, but it doesn't keep you down forever. You continue to write, because it's who you are. You may be part of a dying breed, but you're determined to go out with a bang.
As time passes, you continue to constantly revise your previous first chapter and the many new chapters that come after it. It is a slow going process and, looking back, you determine that you used to be a horrible writer. That was in the past, though. You're constantly improving, but you feel as if all the hard work you've been putting into your writing is finally paying off.
As a writer, you feel as if you've found your voice.
You haven't been as eager to let people read your work as you once were, but, if the random classmate picks up a little interest in what you've been working on, you gladly let them read your story. Unfortunately, this never really ends the way you want it to. The classmate will usually give the writings back a few days later with that single word that you've come to loathe.
One day though, something changes. A girl you've known for your entire high school career strikes up a conversation with you. To be honest, you've never really noticed her before. You're in a computer class at the moment, and you always like to use any extra time you have in there to write your story on their word program, which you don't have access to at home.
It's a rare occasion for you, as you now realize that you haven't really been paying attention to many girls recently. She does most of the talking for you and you have no problem with that. You're an introvert, remember?
Although, there's something about the way she tells a story that's just captivating. Maybe it's her choice in words or perhaps it's her voice, and the amount of enthusiasm it carries for even the slightest detail of the past events of her life that she brings up.
She can't talk about herself forever though. Soon, she brings up what you have on your computer screen, which is obviously the story you're working on. You stammer over your words as you attempt to tell her about it. When she asks for a book summary, you think it over for a while, but give up because you can't think of something that won't sound stupid.
Instead, you suggest that she reads it.
As you leave class that period, you watch her walk away while she juggles the thirty or so pages that you've written, along with her own load. You would have offered to help her, but your next class is in the opposite direction. You watch her until she disappears around the corner and, interestingly enough, you're in a very hopeful mood.
You really want her to like your story.
To a writer, this can be a turning point.
The next day, you walk into class and there she is, sitting in the seat next to your own, like she always has. For a brief moment, you reflect on how weird this is and how someone that seemed so trivial in the past can suddenly become the focal point of your thoughts.
You take a mental note on what you’re feeling right now. Maybe it’ll help your writing along someday.
Smiling, you greet her in the clumsy manner that appears to have become your usual. She doesn’t seem to notice how you blunder around her though, which you appreciate. Curiously, it seems like there are a lot of things you appreciate about her.
Then, out of the blue, she reaches her hand into her bag, grabbing the manuscript you only gave her yesterday. When you see this, you don’t know what to expect. Your first instinct is to think that she hated it. It’s only natural, since you haven’t been receiving high marks from any of your readers, except for your mom, since you started. You’re not even sure if she’s read it all. Most of your somewhat constant readers take a few days to read this amount of pages. For her to have read it completely in a single night seems incredible to you.
Still, she puts them on the desk in front of you and you can’t help but eagerly await her response to your work. Her feedback, when said, was simple. It wasn’t the kind of simple you hated though. As a writer, you’ve begun to welcome simple at times.
After all, if you become too wordy, you lose your audience.
Her simple introduction did not fail to hook you.
You can tell that her enthusiasm for your work is real. She praises your work, but she’s not shy when it comes to suggestions. This doesn’t bother you at all though. The conversation you’re having now is the most exciting you’ve ever had. It’s the first time an in-depth discussion of your story has ever taken place with another person other than yourself.
She finishes her constructive criticism, but this doesn’t sadden you. After all, she’s told you that she looks forward to reading whatever it is you write next. You can’t stop smiling. To tell the truth, you haven’t been this excited about writing since you completed that first chapter so long ago.
You understand why, as well.
It’s intoxicating to know that you finally have a fan.
She’s your first fan; the only person to really acknowledge your work so far.
As a writer, this feels like the end of your stand still. High school may not be over, but that’s no longer an issue. You never wanted to write for only yourself and, now, you don’t. Now, you write for someone much better.
To a writer, two heads are always better than one.
Hoffman Estates, Illinois
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