This was written as when I was a fellow at the Illinois State Writing Project, in which I discuss my experiences with writing.
The wait is excruciating. You secure yourself into the seat, and the car slowly starts to move. Butterflies of excitement and nervousness form in your stomach as you climb to the top. Finally, you make it, but the car hovers, waiting for the back to catch up. For a few seconds, you’re suspended in time. The next, you’re falling, unable to be stopped. Your stomach hits the ground before the car pulls back up.
You find yourself pushed through loops, twists, and turns. Your stomach, barely able to keep up, is eventually able to figure out what is going on.
My fear for rollercoasters never came close to my fear of writing. I never really thought of myself as a writer. At least, not a writer in the same playing field as Shakespeare, or any of the popular published authors of today like King, Meyer or Rowling.
Why shouldn’t I consider myself a writer? I can speak, read and write. I certainly have the capability to write.
I was in second grade when I learned cursive. My teacher taught us to tilt the paper to get the perfect slant for our letters. Being left handed, this of course was backwards for me. When I’d follow her advice, writing felt like my arm was being twisted around and was about to break off. I very quickly learned to compensate for my difference, tilted the paper the other way, and continued to write.
“Your paper is the wrong way,” my teacher said as she fixed it for me.
After she left, I turned it back to the way I liked it. From that point on, I was always aware of where the teacher was. I’d tilt the paper the “right” way just enough to make her happy. When she was far enough away, it would go back to where I liked it.
Getting on my first coaster was like that. If my friends weren’t there, I would have ran for the hills. They never left my side though. There was no retreating to my comfort zone of waiting outside of the line.
As the line moved forward, I grew more comfortable with my place in line. I was still nervous, but I began to come to terms with what was about to happen. Soon, I was strapped securely into the seat, trying to be enthusiastic for the new experience. The car slowly began to climb to the top.
In high school, I’d write quite often. I had a black and white composition book that I thought was the greatest thing ever. At one point, I sat down to write my life story. With six brothers and a sister, I always had plenty of material. I tried my hand at poetry too. While I don’t think any of it was particularly spectacular, I liked it. I’d jot down my ideas and small bits of writing. The ones I liked, I’d elaborate on and rework, reword, and revise until I thought they were perfect.
Throughout high school, I worked on a poem about a boy I dated. It was the only piece of my writing I was brave enough to show anyone. Well, not anyone I knew. I posted it on a poetry website though I can’t remember which one. The website supposedly chose the best poetry and combined them into an anthology. Then sold books to the poets. Yeah, I was suckered into buying one. Twenty-five dollars later, my book eventually came. It had no table of contents, and my poem was the first one, which of course leads me to believe it was all a scam. Regardless, I liked my book and seeing my name in print. I’m sure I still have it somewhere.
After high school, my coaster was stuck at the top of its climb. I stopped writing. Maybe writing was my way to cope with the drama that is high school. All I know is that I stopped. I kept my composition book and writings though. I hid these in a drawer for years. Even now, I hide the book at the back of a filing cabinet.
In college, creative writing classes secretly fascinated me. I’d considered taking one but felt my creativity was severely lacking. My cowardice resulted in envying others with the courage to read their work aloud and withstand the criticism sure to come.
I knew the writing project would be the push for my rollercoaster and for my writing. It would force me to step out from the comfort zone and embrace a new role – as a writer. I can put words down on paper. I can construct sentences, paragraphs and pages that make sense to others who read it. I have the ability to write. I just had to give myself permission to let my roller coaster fall. I am a writer.
I am a writer.