A Story of A Story

I sat down to write just to get the creative juices flowing again and ended up making something kind of cool. Feedback is appreciated :)

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1. A Story of A Story

What happened to me?

 

 

My brain feels numb. The feeling of excitement welling up in me as I put fingers to keyboard isn’t quite there this time. I lose my train of thought almost every time I begin to write a sentence. The story in my head is fragmented and disconnected, not all there, just waiting for something - anything - to fill in all those holes in the story.

 

I’ve lost my ability to write the way I used to.

 

I remember when I was twelve years old, spending hours on the computer. Most adults would argue that sort of thing isn’t good for young kids. But for me, the internet was my happy place. I could reinvent myself every single day behind the safety of a computer screen and be all the things I was too afraid to be in real life.

 

I had two main hobbies back in those days. The first was playing video games, specifically Minecraft. (Yeah, go ahead and laugh - I was one of those kids who would spend all day on multiplayer servers building weird bases and pretending I could fight people.) I feel silly reading that now that I’m an adult who worries more about how the bills are going to get paid than what kind of pixel art I should try and make. That’s exactly the magic of the game to me, though. There were essentially no rules to the game. Yes, after a few near-death experiences, you learn the unspoken rules about not going into caves at night unarmed. But beyond that, there’s no one to tell you what you can and can’t do. I could spend all day building whatever I wanted and creating my own objectives to the game.

 

The second hobby was writing. It was somewhat similar to playing video games in that there are no clear rules on how to build your own world and tell its story. When I write, I have complete control over how the story ends. I can create fantastical creatures who fight knights in shining armor...or reimagine a totally different high school experience from what I had...or decide for myself what being in a zombie apocalypse would really be like. Telling stories has always been something I loved to do from the moment I was a toddler. And once I was old enough to have my own computer, I spent hours on end posting my stories on the internet for all to see. I had my own little community of writers who were just as imaginative as I was. It was one of the few times where I really felt like I had found my tribe.

 

I used to be pretty good at writing, too. When I was fourteen, I entered a short story I had written on a whim in one hour into a local short story contest and won the first place prize of one hundred dollars. My family and friends always used to tell me I could write an award-winning book if I wanted to. For the longest time, that’s exactly what I wanted to do with my life: I wanted to become an author.

 

That all changed the second I found out how English majors usually don’t get hired as much and how unlikely it would be for my first published novel to immediately be a bestseller. So I started thinking of what else I could major in when I went to college that still let me write, but had a higher chance of actually getting me a job once I graduated. I

 

And it all went downhill from there.

 

As I grew older, my interests changed. The need to eventually pay for school was a hue pressure on me. I started looking into business-oriented blogs. I spent more time focusing on my AP classes and extracurriculars at school. All my sights were set on the future, and spending all day creating simply for the sake of creating began to look like a childish affair.

 

Now, at nineteen years old, I look back on those days with a bittersweet pang in my heart. I wonder if the little girl from back then would be proud of the person I am today. I’ve become a successful political activist, with titles like “Delegate to the United Nations” and “Campaign Manager” gracing my resume. I attend one of the best research universities in the state. I’m a state-recognized cellist heading into my ninth year of performing. And, perhaps most surprising to everyone else who knew me as a child, I entered a pageant just to try it all out and actually won.

 

In the eyes of the world, I’m extraordinarily accomplished person for someone as young as me. But I’ve also never felt more empty and unfulfilled than I do right now.

 

The magic of those days where I created beautiful things with no care in the world are long gone. I could write a whole book on all the awful mistakes I’ve made and all the flaws I have, but one that sticks out to me is that not only do I spend less time on creative endeavors - I’ve almost completely lost the ability to write just for fun or sit and play a video game without thinking of all the things I have to do for school.

 

It hurts to think that I can no longer do the activity that brought me the most joy and served as my refuge when I was younger with the same skill that I did back in those days. Sometimes, when I get a rare moment of clarity and I have time to sit and write, I end up just sitting there with fingers hovered over the keyboard wondering why the words don’t come to me like they used to. It’s incredibly frustrating to suddenly be unable to do something I was once so good at.

 

The only way I could ever hope to get back into writing is to sit there and try my best to do it. So that’s what I’m doing right now.

 

I have no idea if I’ll publish this or who’s going to see this. For the first time in awhile, I’m not writing something for a class assignment or to fulfill requirements for a professional opportunity. I’m just putting words on paper that make sense to me and seeing what happens. I had no real objective when I started this paper except to just write about what’s on my mind.

 

But now that I’ve worked my way through about a thousand words or so and the words are starting to flow more easily from my brain to the keyboard, I think I want this to be the beginning of a journey for me.

 

I hate using the word journey for a few reasons. The first is that whenever I watch The Bachelorette (that’s something twelve-year-old me never thought I’d say), they talk about going on their “journeys” to find love together so much that if I could reach my hand through the TV screen and smack them, I would. It’s too cliché at this point.

 

The second and more pressing reason, though, is that the word “journey” implies that the road to the destination is more important than the destination itself. 

 

That’s supposed to be a good thing for most people, but impatient as I am, it can be difficult for me to actually enjoy the journey if the whole reason I’m on the journey is to get to a specific place. It’s exhausting to write novels sometimes - why can’t I just fast forward to the part when my novel’s complete and ready for publication? School is frustrating sometimes - why can’t I just skip to the part when I’m walking across that stage to receive my hard-earned degree? After all, the whole reason I’m doing the work is to just get to that final product, right?

 

In the short time I’ve been on Earth (and something I’ve thought about more now that I’m in college and facing my future head-on), I’ve discovered that life is a lot more like those video games and story-writing sessions than I thought. Your life is a blank notebook, and you hold the pen to write your own story. There isn’t any pre-set objective, no particular rules you have to follow - regardless of what society may make you think. You have the power to decide where your story can take you next.

 

The only scary thing about writing your story, really, is that you don’t know when the pages in your notebook will run out. The end is completely unpredictable. In some sense, there is no final product we’re required to have achieved.

 

So why am I focusing so much on endings that I have no control over? Why am I trying so hard to achieve some perfect ideal of what a successful person looks like when, in reality, there is no one set of qualifications that make a person successful?

 

If this little rambling memo is nothing else, let it be the declaration that I’m going to start taking some cues from twelve-year-old me, and that I’m going to begin a journey to find magic, creativity, and little bits of happiness in everything I do. Yes, sometimes being an adult is boring and you have to spend time doing taxes or making doctor’s appointments. But I have the pen to my story - there’s nothing saying I can’t make it a fun and happy story if I want to. I can choose to spend time doing things that fulfill me. I can choose to play my favorite music while I fill out those tax forms or write down an idea for a super-cool book character when I see someone interesting in the doctor’s waiting room. Life is meant to be an adventure, and I want to find ways to create happiness in all the little moments that make up a life well-lived.

 

As naïve as she was, I think that little girl behind the computer screen had it right when she spent her time making the world her own instead of letting the world define who she is.

 

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