I am a writer, first and foremost. When (if) someone comes up to me and asks, “what are you?” I say, “I am a writer.”
I am everything else, too. I became a writer because 1) nobody had the time to listen to my daydreams, 2) I found them incredibly important, against all odds of logic, and 3) it became my defense mechanism at a very young age.
I grew up in a world where the internet was too young to raise me, where TV contained mostly instructional, mind-expanding programming, and a personal computer was expensive.
I was born in 1984; I’m not too old to have been spared being raised by Nintendo, or the rise of fast food as a kind-of real food, or the need for both of my middle-class parents to work overtime to keep food on the table and send the kids through college. I had a computer by the time I was in 8th grade, sitting in my room.
I grew up in that awkward teenage-stage between the ’70’s and the information age, where big business still stretched its legs in the newfound, unregulated territory of a world market without a Soviet influence. I grew up during the dissolving of Social accountability and growth of social media. I grew up when journalists weren’t paid off by political affiliations (as much) and people learned mobility through shrinking electronics and growing wireless capabilities.
I grew up reading books. I grew up with parents who implanted violence in my head but demanded physical chastity outside it. Demands were fluid like water. Expectations were lofty and as unattainable as clouds.
They grounded me often. Growing up, I was the “worst of the three,” (including myself and my three brothers), due to my inability to follow basic directions. Sadly, now that I’m 29 years old, I stare at my young self and realize, more than being a rebellious teenager (which I was), I was a confused dreamer that couldn’t find peace of mind no matter where I turned.
Fifth grade. I wrote my first story, about some Home Alone spinoff, based on a dream. Lame, I know, but my parents recommended I get it put in the school paper. I thought it was dumb, even at that age, but I did. They supported it. It was the only thing they supported without forcing me into it. No writing classes, no summer camps, no heightened study groups. In fact, they thought it was a passing craze. I loved science too much. I loved acting too much. Whatever.
So it mutated into a defense mechanism. It was the only thing they didn’t bastardize by stealing away. They never said, “You write because I told you to.” or “You write because I made you.” Everything else, including years of plays, soccer, tennis, golf, basketball, and even Boy Scouts, at one point or another, they took credit for. So it was my child. My baby. Writing was my plaything.
They took it away when I got a bad grade, somewhere in the middle of 8th grade. My computer. So I pulled out a pad of paper and I wrote. I wrote in class. I daydreamed during recess. For so much of my day, I wasn’t allowed to write. I could only daydream.
I’d go home, grounded, and go to my room–shelves devoid of books, as per my punishment, computer devoid of cord–with a purloined pad of paper and write violently.
In this way, writing became some kind of a fetish for me. More than comfort, it made me aroused in ways the rest of the world could not. It allowed me to connect with people–even though I connected just fine–in ways that made me unique. I spent most of my childhood, while firmly on the ground and among friends, with my head in the clouds.
I’ve given up dreams. On dreams. Dreams of being an engineer. Dreams of being a lawyer. A great actor. Dreams of studying biology. Somewhere in my high school, my writing became a catalyst for learning. The subjects I loved most were the ones that directly pertained to my work. The subjects I excelled in where the ones most pertinent to my work.
Math, unfortunately, did nothing for my words. It suffered the most. Sciences, while incredibly insightful and important, eventually bored me due to the lack of creativity and humanity. History, english, journalism, politics, religion, fascinated me. They became my subjects of choice.
And I’ve been that way ever since. I learn well, but I learn best if it fits in the vernacular. Even today, while going through classes eyeballs deep in electrical wiring, circuits, and installations, all I think about is the writing perspective–so I write a scifi. I know, without a doubt, the moment I stop studying circuits, the book will be discarded and possibly never looked at again. As some perverted husk of a hobby, I write as a way to make it mine.
This dream will never die, because it is not a means to an end. It is more than a tool. It is an incorporation of myself into the real world. It is a way of life. Like a religious belief, like ritual, like spirituality.
My books are my religion. My words are my spirituality. Not the content, per se, but the act of writing. Even if it is not completed. Even if it falls away like autumn leaves.
Maybe this is why I’m unpublished. Maybe this is why I know I’ll be published proudly.