History | Teen Ink


October 24, 2007
By Anonymous

I often have trouble starting things like writing pieces. It might have something to do with the fact that I insist on listening to music, atmospheric or not, whenever I begin a writing project. And with the music there comes singing. It’s hard to think and type words when you’re singing different ones. I think faster than I can put it to paper. This is especially problematic when I’m in an inspirational situation and am coming up with characters and situations and storylines faster than my brain can convey the signals to my hands. At these times, the pen seems too heavy, the ink to thick, the keyboard loosely connected.
Such situations happen usually when I’m in a new place, not expecting to write, so it’s extremely challenging to try to remember each phrase the way I originally thought it, to retain the creative spark until I can reach a pen and a napkin, a friend’s computer, a page ripped from a notebook. Car rides, especially. Not the Pennsylvania Turnpike kind of car rides, I mean more the 40 mile back road to a dinky place that used to be a chicken coop but is now the best seafood restaurant in Salisbury. Being the only car on such a quiet road with iPod headphones setting the scene, I can’t help but think. The houses along the side were busted and decrepit, but they looked like they held such history.
History inspires me. I love looking at places with abandoned tractors and black cats watching the stray chickens. Who lived there? What was their life like? Why did they leave? Creating these histories is what I do best. Maybe they lived out their life in this corner of Virginia, never truly understanding the depth of the world, never wishing to branch out from crab cakes and seashells. Maybe they left to go to school in New York, and grew up to have a high-end business job. Did they ever visit their parents? Where did the parents come from?
Creating something out of a single picture is my passion. One glimpse of dry fields insufficiently fed by shallow, stagnant irrigation canals; I think of the people who first plowed that filed. Who dug the canal? How hard is it to make a living off the land like that? What happens if their crops fail? If it’s such a hard life why do they continue? I write that story. I decide for myself how things go. I connect with my character, I put a little of myself in each character, I identify and create feelings I don’t already have.
Wherever I am, be it a busy street in New York City or the quiet museum blocks of Philadelphia, the French & Indian War forts of the Sinking Valley, the colonial streets of Williamsburg, the bourgeois homes of the 1770’s aristocrats in England, or the simplicity of a natural creek running through dense forest behind my childhood home, I create a story to go with it. I can be whomever I want when I’m in a place like that. Any situation can be turned on its head or into a story. One day I’ll benefit from thinking so hard. At least I know I’ll always be at home, wherever I am on the map, at home in my imagination.

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