Tag Archives: Being A Writer

Creativity according to Elizabeth Gilbert.

24 Nov

Elizabeth Gilbert TED Talk: Your Elusive Creative Genius

“You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.”

“We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace.”

“In a world of disorder and disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted. Only artistic excellence is incorruptible. Pleasure cannot be bargained down. And sometimes the meal is the only currency that is real.”

“Your treasure – your perfection – is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the busy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.”

Mirrored in Truth & Beauty.

5 Nov

Last night, I started reading Truth & Beauty by Anne Patchett, which is a memoir of Anne Patchett’s friendship with troubled author and poet, Lucy Grealy. Here is a synopsis according to GoodReads:

Ann Patchett and the late Lucy Grealy met in college in 1981, and, after enrolling in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work. In Grealy’s critically acclaimed memoir, “Autobiography of a Face,” she wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, years of chemotherapy and radiation, and endless reconstructive surgeries. In “Truth & Beauty,” the story isn’t Lucy’s life or Ann’s life, but the parts of their lives they shared. This is a portrait of unwavering commitment that spans twenty years, from the long winters of the Midwest, to surgical wards, to book parties in New York. Through love, fame, drugs, and despair, this is what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined . . . and what happens when one is left behind.

This is a tender, brutal book about loving the person we cannot save. It is about loyalty, and being lifted up by the sheer effervescence of someone who knew how to live life to the fullest.

Since starting this book, I have seen myself in Lucy Grealy. Though I have not faced what she went through, the loneliness, fear, and desire to belong are all feelings that I have known all too well. Lucy’s words throughout the novel (seen especially in the letters she writes to Ann), are heartbreaking and brutally honest, but in more than one point in the book, I have felt like the words have been taken from my own soul. Even though this is definitely not the first time that I have seen myself mirrored in the emotions of someone else, I feel like this is one of the few times that it’s been so spot on. Throughout the book, Lucy exhibits numerous times when she is down on herself due to her situation. However, that being said, she is a poet, and writing is the way that she comes back to herself. Writing and her friendship with Ann are what allow her to come back to her reality with gusto. Though I am only about halfway through the book at this point, I have found myself, on more than one occasion, clutching the book almost like a life-line, holding it close to my heart and whispering words from the novel that seem to apply to my own life.

“Writing is a job, a talent, but it’s also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon.”

When I came across the above quote, I smiled. I smiled with the realization that during certain times in my life, I too have viewed writing as a friend, as the friend who is always there, day or night, waiting to welcome you home with open arms and a carton of ice cream. Yes, the ice cream addition was my own tid bit, but it’s what writing has been for me for so long: the one thing that I can come back to, again and again, like a long-lost friend that you never seem to lose touch with no matter how much time has passed. A friend with whom you can pick up right where you left off, as if you saw them just yesterday and not years ago. Thankfully, I have had the pleasure of having more than one friend like that in my life, and it is one of the best feelings I have come to find in this life. Sure, there are other things that come close to that kind of magic, but they aren’t moments that are also full of deep conversations that last into the early hours of the morning or moments of laughing until your stomach hurts.

“That is one thing I’ve learned, that it is possible to really understand things at certain points, and not be able to retain them, to be in utter confusion just a short while later. I used to think that once you really knew a thing, its truth would shine on forever. Now it’s pretty obvious to me that more often than not the batteries fade, and sometimes what you knew even goes out with a bang when you try to call on it, just like a lightbulb cracking off when you throw the switch.”

Truth & Beauty is full of more honesty than I can only hope to achieve one day with my own memoir. It’s not even just honesty that causes you to pause and think, That’s got to be truth. Those feelings are so raw that the only place they could have come is from the deepest and most authentic part of the soul. It’s more than that, if at all possible. It’s sitting on the kitchen floor with a cup of coffee in one hand and the book in the other, staring down at the page and thinking, I can only hope that one day I am as in touch with the deep and dark parts of myself like this author is able to portray. Though I have become incredibly introspective since beginning my memoir in January, I have not reached this level of raw authenticity. To do so, I believe it takes many more months, if not years, of sitting in the dark corners of your memories patiently awaiting the day when they decide to come out into the harsh light of day. You’ve got to sit in the dark and get to know them on a level that’s more true than you’ve ever known. You must sit with them, day and night, until you know their features and ways in which they move through the world. Until your breathing matches their own with such accuracy that you can no longer tell the difference between your breaths and theirs.

“Our friendship was like our writing in some ways. It was the only thing that was interesting about our otherwise dull lives. We were better off when we were together. Together we were a small society of ambition and high ideals. We were tender and patient and kind. We were not like the world at all.”

Though I am lucky to have an incredible best friend, when I read the above passage, the first thing that popped into my head was the level of comfort that can only be achieved through a childhood friend. I thought of a friend that I have known since kindergarten, and the nights that we would lie in my bed and stare up at the ceiling, talking about our futures like they were millions of miles away. The nights that we would hold hands when we got scared in the middle of the night, only to end up burying our faces in pillows a moment later when we were overcome with laughter. We looked at each other then, smiling and breathing heavily once the laughter subsided, not even knowing what we found so funny, and yet realizing that nothing could top the happiness that had been wrapped up in that moment. It enveloped us, that pure bliss, wrapping us up like a quilt that was stitched with every happy memory of our relatively short lives. We knew, no matter what, that we had each other.

The finding place of my words.

20 Oct

“A tough life needs a tough language – and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers – a language powerful enough to say how it is. It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place.”

The above quote is from Jeanette Winterson’s memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, and when I came across it this morning while on GoodReads, it really stuck with me. Maybe it’s because I know after reading Jeanette Winterson’s memoir that she had a really tough life. Maybe it’s because I am reminded that even though I persevere and trudge on, I have a tough life. Like Jeanette, I have constantly continued to find myself not in other people or places…but in words.

However, I’m not referring to the idea that literature has acted as my only finding place. Although, I do believe that it all began with literature. At a young age, during the days that I would go inside my closet where I had pillows, blankets and a light, I’d close my closet door and pour over the words. I’d lose myself in the words that I thought only I felt: those words that signified loneliness, being different, feeling pain and not feeling like there was a place that I belonged. Over time, I found myself in those words as I realized that what I was feeling wasn’t just confined to my own situation. I saw myself mirrored in others who, though they didn’t have Cerebral Palsy, still felt some of the same emotions that I struggled with from the very beginning. Even though there aren’t necessarily specific literary characters that I remember feeling especially connected with, it never was about making specific connections. In terms of literature, many of us recognize pieces of ourselves in other characters, and the sense that we are able to relate to them on some level acts as a safety net, a blanket that keeps the cold out, even if only for a moment.

As I began experimenting with my own words and realizing that I too could express the emotions that I was feeling, my own words became my safety net. Even though other literature still had the same effect that it always did in terms of helping me to feel less alone, the discovery that I could use my own words to achieve the same effect was life-changing. Rather than immersing myself in literature that had pieces of myself woven throughout it, I created words that held every aspect of me. Instead of just bits and pieces, I was entirely present within my own words. Within my words, all the emotions were there, waiting to be uncovered. The loneliness, the fear, the pain, the tears, the feeling of being so different that there wasn’t a place that I fit. Within my own words, I made all the emotions visible. As I removed them from the dark places that they had been hiding in for so long, they became even more real. Instead of simply residing in my thoughts, they were given a heart, a way to live and breathe in an environment that was separate from me, and yet was an environment that I had completely created.

Today, not much has changed. If anything, my words have become much more authentic and honest. Instead of beating around the bush in terms of the emotions that I have felt and continue to feel, I have plunged right in. I’ve found myself spending hours sitting in the darkness of my emotions, trying to find the perfect way to give them life. Though uncovering every aspect of my emotions has been one of the hardest things I have ever done, my words continue to act as a finding place. I am the truest I have ever been to myself when I am writing. Because with words, I can’t hide. There’s nothing to hide behind. My words still reside in the place that they always have: inside me. Through giving them life and allowing them to breathe on their own, it’s as if I’m living in two places at once. I’m living my current life, but I’m also living in the words that are written down. If one day in the distant future you see a book by me on the bookshelves, I hope you find me there.

Diving below the surface.

6 Oct

I want people who write to crash or dive below the surface, where life is so cold and confusing and hard to see. I want writers to plunge through the holes—the holes we try to fill up with all the props. In those holes and in the spaces around them exist all sorts of possibility, including the chance to see who we are and to glimpse the mystery.-Anne Lamott

Today, I finished reading Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. This quote from the book really stuck with me. Over the past few months, I’ve been drawn more and more to books about writing and what it takes to be a writer. Though I don’t read the books in order to remind myself why I write, I do read them in order to remember that many of the emotions that I feel as a writer don’t enclose me. Rather, they allow me entry into one of the most special worlds I’ve ever known: the world of writers.

I first began to write because I felt like no one understood what I was feeling. Writing was the way that I could be completely myself without having to explain why I felt or didn’t feel certain emotions. As I sat in my childhood bedroom at the age of 8 with a journal and pencil in hand, I realized that I didn’t have to hide. I could pour my entire self into my words, and the only person who had to read those words was me. However, more recently through this blog, I have started to understand the strong sense of community and belonging that I’ve been looking for for so long. It’s been right here, waiting for me to discover it. The world of writers is one that is very hard to explain to those who aren’t writers. However, for those of us who are writers, we know what our world is like. We wake up in it every morning. We plunge into it on a daily basis when we sit down at our computers to write out what is itching to be released. We know what it’s like on the bad days when the words won’t come, when it’s too pretty outside to sit in front of a computer that holds the daunting blank Word document. However, we also know the joy of the little victories: completing a chapter, getting an article published, the sense of relief that comes when another writing project is finished. Even though those little victories can keep us afloat for longer than we imagined, it’s the recognition we want. I don’t mean being the next New York Times Bestselling author or making millions of dollars. I mean being told by one single person that our words have touched them or helped them in some way. That’s the prize, “the big kahuna.” It’s what keeps me coming back to my desk, day after day, to share my story.

I haven’t opened the Word document that houses my memoir in a matter of months. Even though I could use the excuses of college classes, friends, work and other random responsibilities that pop up for juniors in college, I’d just be fooling myself. I’m naturally an introspective person. However, the kind of introspection that my memoir has involved has brought me face to face with memories that I never thought I’d have to experience again. However, for many writers, that’s what writing is. It’s facing our demons and learning to accept them so that we can move on to a better and more fulfilling life. I know from experience that it’s incredibly hard. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I keep trudging along though. I keep on “diving below the surface” of my life for the chance of impacting just one person, for the chance to be part of the reason that they feel even just a little less alone.

Monday’s Musings: October 1st!

1 Oct

Despite it being Monday, there are numerous things that have made me happy today:

  • Completing my annotated bibliography for my Community Psychology project on the social stigma of physical disabilities. If you’ve ever had to do an annotated bibliography, I’m sure you’re squirming at the thought of it. If you haven’t, count yourself lucky. I wish I could still be uninformed about all the effort and time that goes into making an annotated bibliography. I would explain it, but I’m relieved to be done with it, so that’s that. If you’re really curious, there is always Google.
  • The fact that it finally feels like Fall: complete with cool weather and changing leaves. Despite the rain and relative cloudiness today, it’s felt like the perfect Fall day. A pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks would seal the deal, but when is there time to go to Starbucks when I have so many other things that require my attention? Thankfully, I love college, and I’ve always loved learning.
  • A quick trip to Mr. K’s, my favorite used bookstore. Since I finished my annotated bibliography today (despite it not being due until Wednesday), I decided to treat myself to a quick trip to Mr. K’s. Since I have been wanting to read another book about writing after reading The Spirit of Writing: Classic and Contemporary Essays Celebrating the Writing Life, I settled for Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. After reading the first sentence of the Introduction, I couldn’t help but realize how much I’m going to love this book:

I grew up around a father and a mother who read every chance they got, who took us to the library every Thursday night to load up on books for the coming week.-Anne Lamott

  • It’s the beginning of a new month. Though this may seem like something small that made my Monday enjoyable, I’m always excited to welcome a new month. A new month means new experiences, new memories to be made, and yet another month that I get to live and breathe among the Blue Ridge Mountains that I love so much. And as the leaves begin to change, I feel even more lucky that I get to call this place home.

Feel every emotion.

12 Sep

During my early teen years, I took voice lessons, and I still remember the first song I ever sung to Miss Julia Helen, my voice teacher. On my very first day of voice lessons, I was incredibly nervous, and I knew that Miss Julia Helen would ask me to sing for her (since she had told me to come with a song prepared). Around the time I began taking voice lessons, my mom and I had recently returned from a trip to New York City.

When my mom and I were in New York City, we saw the Broadway musical All Shook Up, which is a musical that was based on Elvis Presley songs. I hadn’t been a fan of Elvis before seeing the musical, but once it was over, I knew that I had to have the soundtrack of the musical so that I could listen to all the songs on repeat until I got sick of hearing them. My favorite song from the soundtrack was Fools Fall In Love, and therefore I ended up choosing it as the song that I would sing for Miss Julia Helen. The funny thing, however, is before beginning voice lessons (and even after I took 2 years of voice lessons), I never could read music. When I knew that I’d have to sing a song for Miss Julia Helen, my trick was choosing a song that I would be able to easily emulate with my voice. Knowing that I had to use this process made my song choice a relatively easy one. Though I know that “Fools Fall In Love” fit my voice, I also knew every single word of the song since I had listened to it on repeat for a week straight by the time my first voice lesson came around.

When I sang for Miss Julia Helen, I was practically beaming. Not only was I happy to be at my very first voice lesson, but I absolutely loved the song that I was singing. I just couldn’t stop smiling. Throughout my two years of voice lessons, I had particular songs that really touched me. “Fools Fall In Love” was one of them because it marked the beginning of a new phase in my life, my singing phase. However, two other songs that I will never forget singing are “You Raise Me Up” and “Colors Of The Wind.” Even though all 3 of those songs are each very different, they spoke to me. As well as loving the accompaniment, I was also very attached to the lyrics. Since I was able to become more attached to the songs themselves, I was able to bring more emotion into the songs when I sang them. From my history with singing, I’ve found that emotion is the key component. You want to make the audience feel what you’re feeling. You want them to feel the song inside of them. The only way to do that is to connect to every possible emotion that is present in the song.

Now that I think about it, I realize that the point I just made applies to writing as well. If, as writers, we want to have our readers feel the emotion in what we are writing, we’ve got to feel every ounce of it as well. If we don’t feel it as we are writing it, how can we expect that kind of response from our readers?

“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.”-Anais Nin

 

Dedicated to Dawn.

7 Sep

I have so many memories of you, and through the years, I’ve tried with all my might to not let them fade. However, the fact that I haven’t seen you since I was in 8th grade of high school and the fact that you left to move to Virginia with your now husband are two solid reasons why I sometimes find those memories coming up short. You were my next to last physical therapist before I stopped going to physical therapy at the age of 15 because there wasn’t much more that could be done. At the age of 15, I was as independent as I was going to get (physically, at least). Even though you weren’t my last therapist before stopping therapy, you had the most impact on me. Well, you and Meredith, one of my other physical therapist’s who I’m still friends with today, did.

You taught me more than I think you ever realized. Then again, maybe that was because I looked up to you so much. Even though you were my physical therapist and you had to put me through a lot of pain if I was going to continue to be independent, you also never treated me as if I was a child. I remember the therapy sessions where we would talk about books, and movies and theatre productions. As well as being my physical therapist, you were my friend, and that’s what I needed. I remember the night that you came to see me in the beauty pageant that I was in at my school. I was so excited for you to come see me in the pageant, and I was especially glad that I walked all over that stage in my slip-on shoes without tripping or falling! I remember how proud of me you were. As well as pushing me to my true potential, you also praised me in certain situations too, and I believe that balance is why I looked up to you so much.

Your blonde hair and incredibly bright smile is forever etched into my memory. Also, you gave some of the best hugs I’ve ever received. I only wish that I could have one of those hugs now. However, I have no doubt that you are in Virginia enjoying life and making a difference in some other girl’s life without even knowing it. I remember how you always used to give me a mini Snickers bar after our therapy sessions. Best of all, on the days that you ran out of Snickers, we’d make walking over to the nearby Bi-Lo part of our “therapy.” I smile as I remember how you introduced me to the wonderful world of Self Check-Out. Even now, as I use the Self Check-Out on a regular basis when getting groceries for my apartment, every once in a while I think of that time in Bi-Lo when we bought Snickers together.

Even though I hate to admit it, I used to try to find you. Even though I did get one letter from you after you first moved, the follow-up letter was sent back to me. I never have been able to find your current address. However, sometimes I sit and hope that one day you’ll come back in to my life. Before you moved away, you gave me a purple journal, and inside it you wrote, “I can’t wait to go into a bookstore one day and see a book by Amelia Coonrod on the shelves.” Even at the age of 13, I knew that I would try with all my might to not let you down in that regard. As well as being my physical therapist, you were my friend, you laughed with me, and you believed in my writing. Though I silently hope that one day I may be able to truly tell you how you touched my life, I also know that this post may have to be exactly that. After all, in my mind, you are still the person I’ve always wanted to be when I grow up. Not in the sense of being a physical therapist. However, if I can touch some girl’s life the way you have forever touched mine, I will know what it is to truly live.

My own kind of ballerina.

28 Aug

When I was a little girl, my grandmother took me to see The Nutcracker every year at Christmastime. I’d put on my black and white checkered dress and my patent leather shoes, and my grandmother and I would drive up to the Koger Center in Columbia. As I sat in the audience watching the Sugar Plum Fairies dance, I’d think about what it would be like to be a ballerina. I’d watch the gracefulness of their movements and imagine being able to move almost effortlessly. That’s what it looked like to me: like the ballerinas were moving so fluidly that it was as if they were floating on air.

Even though I was never able to take ballet lessons, I did as much as I could to feel like a ballerina. I bought a pink leotard and pink ballet shoes. I even had to have a bright pink tutu with sparkles. The tutu was my favorite part. I loved the fact that I could spin around and around and the tutu would fly up like a balloon. I remember feeling pretty, and I remember the days that I would spin around in my leotard, tutu and ballet shoes like I was a true ballerina. Simply wearing the outfit was enough for me.

I got my own experience of being a ballerina when I joined the Calhoun Players, a community theatre group in my town. However, in the beginning, it wasn’t like I imagined it to be. Even though I got to dance on stage, for many of the productions I was placed in the back. Though I knew that it was because there were other people who were better dancers than I was, we all want to have a chance to shine. I got my chance in 2007 thanks to my theater director, Chuck. In 2007, I was in the cast of the Wizard of Oz. However, the best part was that for the first time since getting involved with the Calhoun Players in 2001, I wasn’t in the chorus. I had one of the main roles. I played Glenda the Good Witch. Even though I didn’t necessarily play the part of a ballerina, playing the part of Glenda was the closest that I’ve ever gotten, and it was probably one of the happiest moments of my life. I wore a blue sparkly dress that had puffy sleeves and a puffy bodice. It wasn’t a leotard and a tutu, but in my opinion, it was even better. I also had a wand, and I wore a tiara on my head. I felt so happy in those moments on stage that I felt like I was going to burst from happiness. The “shining” moment for me during those performances (other than playing Glenda and feeling as pretty as a ballerina) was getting to stand out on stage in my pretty outfit and sing a solo. For a few minutes during each performance, all eyes were on me. However, for the first time in my life, people were staring at me in awe rather than looking at me and wondering what was wrong with me. Granted, it probably wasn’t the first time I was looked at in awe or happiness, but it felt like a first time for me since I had grown so accustomed to being stared at in a negative way.

As I sat in the audience of The Nutcracker performance, I didn’t know that one day I would be able to be my own kind of ballerina. Even though it wouldn’t be in the way that I imagined, I feel like it was much better. Rather than sitting in the audience watching the performance, I got to be the one on stage. I may not have gotten the chance to dance like the Sugar Plum Fairies, but I got to do something I loved even more: I got to sing. I got to sing like I’ve never sung before, holding a wand and wearing a tiara. I got to wear a blue sparkly puffy dress that still hangs in my closet at home, reminding me of the moment that I got to feel like my own kind of ballerina.

Counseling Special Needs Kids.

24 Aug

Every so often, most of the time when my defenses are down, I contemplate what it would be like to counsel special needs kids in the future. Since I have special needs myself, I feel like I could bring something to the table that other counselors wouldn’t necessarily have: understanding. However, while it may seem admirable for me to want to counsel special needs kids, I think of Grace, a 12-year-old girl I know who has CP. I think of Grace and how it is so hard for me to watch her go through the same pain that I did without being able to help her. However, I also think of the kids who would sit before me, faced with so much, who may only want one thing: someone to listen….or someone who understands.

It’s what I’ve searched for my entire life…someone who can understand. However, recently I’ve come to the conclusion that so much of this journey is my own inner battle. Sure, there are people who want to understand and who are willing to listen, but none of them can say, “I know exactly how you feel.” That’s not my fault, nor is it theirs. It’s just the luck of the draw I guess.

However, when I contemplate counseling special needs kids, I’ve come to a realization: It wouldn’t just help the kids that I’d work with, it’d help me too. I understand that without even being in the field yet to see it. However, another part of me has some doubts. Yes, it would feel awesome to help these kids that I associate myself with in a sense (even though I know that my CP doesn’t define me). However, I also wonder what it would be like being faced with disabilities day in and day out. Yes, I’d already be faced with it on a daily basis due to the fact that I have a physical disability myself. However, I just don’t know if the workplace is an area where I’d want to separate myself from it, if that makes any sense. The thing is, I don’t know how it would affect me. I don’t know if I’d feel like I was being put in a kind of box along with my clients: the box of disability. It’s not something that I’m able to reason through right now, since I’m still in college and won’t know my reaction to it until I’m out in the real world facing it one-on-one.

Either way, I feel like writing my memoir is one of the beginning steps. Even though I’m not talking directly to other kids with special needs and trying to understand how they feel, I’m dealing with my own emotions regarding my physical disability. I’m writing about what I’ve faced and how it’s made me feel, and I think that is one of the first steps if I want to consider counseling kids with special needs. Even though I understand that since I’m in college this is the ideal time for my career choices to fluctuate, it’s something that I’m considering. Though the ultimate goal is to help kids like myself come to understand themselves and why they’re different, I’ve realized how much I’ve benefited from counseling, and I want to give other kids in my shoes the same opportunity to try to move past what they’ve faced. Granted, it’s not just in the counseling. It takes much more. For instance, I know that without my writing I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today, or being in a position where I can openly talk about my disability in a way that is helping me coming to terms, and ultimately accept, myself. However, combining counseling with my own coping mechanism of writing has brought me here, and I only hope that one day I can give other special needs kids the opportunity to try to come to terms with what they have faced.

To Grace (Part Four): Finding Your Voice.

10 Aug

In case you are visiting my blog for the first time, here are the previous posts that go with this series: To GraceTo Grace (Part Two): Walking Through The Fire, and To Grace (Part Three): Accepting Love.

Dear Grace,

I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. A few weeks ago (when I was still in Ireland), your mom posted a video on her Facebook page of you singing a song that you had written. As I sat in Ireland with my computer in my lap listening to you sing words that you had written, I smiled. I smiled, but I also cried. During the entire video of you singing something that you had written, there was one thought going through my head: Grace has found her voice as a writer, just like I did at her age.

The video caught me off guard though because I never knew that you had started writing. Even though I saw you about six months ago, we don’t often have the chance to sit and talk for long periods of time. Normally I’m just able to see you during the times that I come to Columbia to have lunch with Meredith (your physical therapist who was also one of my physical therapists). However, when I do have lunch with Meredith, I try to make it a Tuesday because I know that you have a session with her on Tuesdays right after her lunch break.

In terms of writing a song though, I’m so happy and proud that you are beginning to find your voice as a writer. Though I know that what you write is probably very different from what I wrote at your age (since you are very strong in your faith and gain strength from it but I’m not religious), that doesn’t make me any less proud. Writing in itself, no matter the content, is a coping mechanism in a sense. It’s a way that we can make some sense of what it is that we are feeling. However, that doesn’t mean that a small part of me isn’t a little bit worried. When I was your age and found my love of writing, my parents took advantage of the fact that I had found a hobby in which I wasn’t limited by my CP by signing me up for all sorts of writing camps. I went to a creative writing camp for 3 consecutive summers at USC and then went to the creative writing summer program at the SC Governor’s School of the Arts and Humanities. The game changer for me was the summer I spent at the SC Governor’s School. I grew as a writer that summer (though I know that I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am in my writing now without starting this blog back in November of last year). Anyway, the summer I spent at the Governor’s School gave me something that I needed: confidence. After that summer program was over, I made the decision to apply to the SC Governor’s School of Arts and Humanities for the regular school year, which was a residential high school for juniors and seniors who were interested in an area of the arts, such as creative writing, drawing, or theatre. I worked really hard on the story that I submitted for the application and also took part in an interview that was part of the overall application. It was a very scary part in my life. Not scary as in painful, but scary in the fact that everything seemed to ride on whether I was accepted for the program or not.

That was my biggest mistake: putting all my hopes into that one basket. When I didn’t get accepted, I entered a dark place for quite a while. I was depressed, I didn’t want to talk to anyone, and I decided right then that I didn’t want to write anymore. I gave up. Though I wrote a little bit here and there during my first year at boarding school, it was nothing like I had written before, so I took a pretty long writing break. However, when my need to write came back to me in the fall of last year, I didn’t fight it. I welcomed it almost like you welcome back an old friend who you haven’t seen in years but who fits perfectly in your life as if you had seen them yesterday.

I guess what I’m trying to say Grace is I feel like you and I are just so similar. We both have CP, we both got involved with community theatre, and now you’re writing, just like me. Even though I’m so happy that you have begun to find your voice as a writer, I just hope that you aren’t so much like me that you get continually frustrated with yourself. Even though I’m trying to work on not being so critical of my own writing, even Stephen King says that we are our own worst critic. However, that being said, write because you love it. Write because it’s something you need and not merely something you want. And if writing doesn’t do that for you, that’s okay. You’re young, and you have all the time in the world to find that one thing that makes you feel alive: that one thing that makes you want to live instead of merely exist. Wanting to live fully and without hesitation is huge for us Grace, at least for me….especially considering all the pain we’ve been through. However, now I know from personal experience that it’s possible. It’s not exactly easy. I’ve been to hell and back with my writing. I’ve loved it, I’ve given up on it, but in the end, I’ve welcomed it back. I’ve welcomed it back because that is what we do for the things or people we love.

Love,

Amelia