One morning, in the fall of sixth grade, my reading group teacher
handed out yellow, lined paper and said we were going to do
something new. She explained that each of us would write a
short story and read it aloud. Their wasn’t an assigned subject
and the freedom to create whatever I wanted sparkled with
Soon, I composed a humorous story, waited my turn to read and
wondered: would the kids and the teacher like it?
Everyone laughed and thought it was funny.
Moments before, I was just another kid sitting on a brown,
plastic chair in a classroom that smelled like warm milk and glue.
That morning, the fall air tingled with joy.
That morning, I transformed.
That morning, I became a writer.
Previously, I had innovative ideas and also loved visual art, singing
and acting. However, up until that point in school, I followed
assigned art or writing activities, sung lyrics chosen by the music
teacher or acted in skits by adult authors. Imaginative writing
felt different because I had the creative control to utilize my
originality and build my own, unique world. Also, reading my work
to others gave me instant feedback.
Later that day, during recess, two girls who weren’t in my reading
group walked up to me on the playground and said,
“We heard you wrote a funny story.”
I figured the kids in my reading group must have talked about my
story to their friends in the other two reading groups.
“Can we hear what you wrote?”
Asking to hear my story was cool. Choosing to hear it during
recess, when all everyone wanted to do was play, was even cooler.
“The teacher has my story, but I’ll read it to you when I get it back.”
They didn’t want to wait so I said I’d try to recite the story from
memory, but wasn’t sure I could. The girls didn’t care if it wasn’t
exactly the same. Moments later, we sat on the grass under a tree.
They nodded, I recited, they laughed. I kept speaking, they kept
laughing. However, the girls did more than laugh. They didn’t
interrupt or be loud and silly like they usually were. A few minutes
later, I finished the story. To my surprise, I remembered everything,
as if the words were part of me. Then, they asked if I had other
stories. I said I didn’t, but knew I’d write again. When I did, I had
a feeling they’d be an eager audience.
I write today for the same reason I wrote in sixth grade: I’m
compelled to give voice to characters, ideas and emotions that
weave inside and around me. I write because I need to bring to the
page what I feel in my heart. I write to make people laugh, and
maybe think differently. I write because words are joy.
I write because I can’t not write.