When I was in high school, my father gave me a journal. It was a red snakeskin design with narrow lines – perfect for a big project. I knew when I got it that I couldn’t fill it with my stupid poetry. This journal needed something special.
It took a few days, but I finallly found inspiration. I imagined a young man in a strange new world, encountering strange creatures and a stranger system of government. Admittedly not my most original idea, but that story was the first novel I ever completed. It opened a floodgate of brilliance and creativity.
It took two years, but I hand-wrote an entire novel. Afterwards, after some encouraging reviews (which I now suspect might’ve been total hogwash), I began to write nonstop. I lived in my dad’s poolhouse and I’d graduated from high school. Without a job, I was able to dedicate my entire summer to writing books. I’d wake up, go to my computer, and write from 9 to 5 with no pauses, no breaks, not even a glance at the clock. I saw very few people. Just my dad. I wasn’t interested in seeing anyone else. Friends, to me, would be a terrible waste of time. Friends would interfere with my writing. Even in times when I was forced to be around others, I resented it and thought only of my books.
I’m telling you this because, during those months in which I did nothing but write, I changed. I was no longer interested in performing roles for other people. I was no longer interested in trivial things like relationships and gaming with friends. I became boring. I became serious.
Not that I thought I was boring. I didn’t. Still don’t. I happen to think – no, know I’m awesome. But my friends didn’t think so. I spent so much time inside my own head, organizing my stream of thought, reflecting on hypotheticals, characteristics, psychology, and ethics that I’d matured far beyond others my age. Without distractions and influences, I grew.
Writing is valuable. It helps us on the path to discover who we are. Since the consensus is that none of my stories are similar to one another, I guess “who I am” isn’t definable, but I’m happy with that.
A sociology professor once asked how I define success, and I basically said that success, to me, is when you’re doing what you love, when you’re on a path that you’re happy with. You never want to reach the end of that path. That’s why everything I write is different from the last. I’m still exploring my mind. If everyone else took to time to delve into their own minds and organize their thoughts the way a writer does, they could be well on the path to achieving clarity. They can grow.