It's been two years since I've been on Protagonize. What I've learned in lost time.
I keep getting Jack's emails. They come like clockwork- the second I forget my writing, another shows up. To be honest, most days I've got my head under the covers, thinking about my boyfriend or college or sleeping, when those emails start ringing my doorbell. I ignore them, roll over, groan.
Fine. I get out of bed, my hair still rumpled, and find a kid at the door. He's far too excited, and frankly reminds me of Russell from the movie UP. It's too early for this, too late, I'm too cynical and feel far too old.
Am I still only eighteen?
Jack wants me, wants my username and creative output to contribute to the Seasonal Prose Competition on Protagonize.com. Or, more likely, I added myself to the notifications list and never bothered to get removed. Either way, the reminder comes like an itch. Was it really Winter 2010 that I last participated?
I try to think about all the things that have changed between Winter 2010 and Summer 2012. I was sixteen then, and beyond eager to prove myself. I'd come sliding into this community, fresh off the success of National Novel Writing Month. My 50,000 words acted as a token. I'd show them off to anyone who wished to see, grinning like a proud parent. All at once, blinded by love, pride, and the acute awareness that I was just a kid.
Everyone scared me. People with names like Eloosive, CrystalRose, SpookOfNight. I did a dance when Jack liked my story. If I could only be loved by the greats, I would be great, too. I watched my statistics like some people watch horse races, presidential elections. If the Protagonize community decided that I was a good writer, then it must be true!
Except that's ridiculous.
I lost sight. Just as some people go to college for the beer, some practice religion as just dogma, I wrote for the approval of people I didn't even know and would probably never meet. I didn't win the Winter 2010 prose competition, not by a long shot, and it was a bucket of cold water in my face.
The last year and a half has taken joy in throwing reality in my face as often as possible. All the usual- getting crushed by a crush, sitting home alone with my conscience as my "friends" drink and party.
Hallelujah. It took a lot of this ice-cold realism before I realized that it doesn't matter what people think about me. I don't write because I'm good. I write because it's a way of opening up an inner window and letting my soul out. "Goodness" be damned.
Why do we give up on the things we love?