Why do I write? Honestly, I’m not sure.
I think I’m a decent writer. I can recognize when a sentence could be revised. I love arranging words to make sentences flow better. I try to use the most precise words as possible. My writing isn’t perfect, but at least it’s readable. At least I hope it is.
I remember back in my freshman year of high school, we were forced to take “Orientation into Life and Careers” class. As part of this class, we took aptitude tests to see which careers would best suit us, and we had to write an essay based on our results. I don’t remember my results, but I do remember we had an option to write about our dream job instead. I chose the latter.
As a bright-eyed 14-year-old who was into heavy metal and pro wrestling, I wrote about my dream to become a rock star. Other kids my age who shared my dream probably had some level of music experience. Not me. But I knew I would be a rock star someday.
I poured my heart into that essay. It was the first time that I wrote about something that I was a passionate about. It was the first time I worked hard on something that didn’t feel like work. I even pasted an image of Ace Frehley on the front page. Like every other assignment, I turned it in and forgot about it.
When I got my essay back, Mrs. C told me she really enjoyed it. She said that I had a knack for writing. I played it cool and acted like I didn’t care. In high school, it was cool to do well without trying. I was whatever on the outside and giddy on the inside. It was the first time my writing had ever been complimented. Granted, I normally did not share my writing with anyone back then. I was always so secretive of my writing because:
- It’s embarrassing to express my thoughts and ideas.
- I did not think my ideas were worth sharing.
- Nothing ever felt finished.
I’ve gotten over it since then. Mostly.
Back in those days, I wrote song lyrics in hopes they would pave my way to rock stardom. Every time I thought of a line for one song, I thought of a line for another song. Soon I had a folder full of incoherent teenage angst that never actually made it to the songwriting stage. If I read these writings today, I would cringe so hard that I would implode from the pressure of my lips.
At some point in high school, I stopped writing in my free time. It was cooler to be into girls, sports, and applying for college. My dreams shifted from rock star to medical doctor. I was finally getting ready for “real life.”
It took me a year to realize I was wrong. After my first year in college, I found that I was happy in my English classes and demoralized in my science classes. I could certainly do the work and get decent grades, but I wasn’t into it. The final straw was a lab report about bacteria I had no interest in writing. After I turned it in, I withdrew from the class. I felt no regret, but sometimes I wonder what my grade was for that paper.
After some soul searching and conversations with friends and family, I took the plunge and became an English major. It was easily the best decision of my life so far. It drew me to computer science (it’s true), it connected me to wonderful people, and I’m happily employed. I’m not sure what would have happened if I stuck with pre-med.
Mrs. C’s compliment always stuck with me. It’s possible that her compliment validated my interest in writing. It’s also possible that a career class at the age of 14 was exactly what I needed to help me figure out my life. Even though I’m not a literal rock star, I could at least aspire to be a rock star in the eyes of an employer who tries to sound cool for the millennials.
After looking back, I think I figured it out. I write because I like to write. I don’t need a reason.