Reader. Writer. Fangirl. Lover of fictional characters. A few other things.
It's a little longer than the 1000-word limit, but I can't quite figure out how to get it down to that...
Written By: Jude
July 4, 2015
My mind is weird, man. I think it's 2/3 Tim Burton movie landscapes, 1/6 Inception with Leonardo DiCaprio, and, somewhere, deep in the crevices maybe, is that last sixth. It's filled with an assortment of miscellaneous horrible jokes stolen from Tumblr and just some really random stuff.
Okay. Now, imagine words—just random words—floating around everywhere in there. I mean, everywhere. They're the sun and clouds in the sky, the fish swimming in the oceans, the creepy jagged rocks and corpse-like figures that tell you that you're in none other than a Tim Burton movie.
Words from Fall Out Boy songs—A loaded God complex, cock it and pull it. Little snippets of shows and movies that somehow help me connect something to something else, like that song from 1950's Cinderella about dreams being wishes to Sigmund Freud's weird model of the unconscious and such for my AP Psych class. Thoughts like, Paper Towns trailer! So so so excited! and John Green is my spirit animal, man. Things like, Space is the coolest thing ever and Why haven't we discovered aliens yet? and Why the hell would people burn down the Library of Alexandria if I could I would go back to the ancient world and singlehandedly stop anyone who came within a mile of the place looking suspicious why do people hate convenience and progress and knowledge and just life getting better why does it even matter if books are ebooks and audiobooks a story is a story is a damn story why are people people why just—
But, yeah, back to the topic at hand. Words are everywhere. All the words I wanna say are at my disposal, just waiting and waiting for their time to shine.
My words, though, are exactly like those people that swear over and over and over and on their mother's lives that they're ready for the limelight but freeze up when they're finally up on stage. So naturally, it's hard for me to speak out loud. When I speak, my words don't come out in graceful glides like they should; they come out in clumsy trips and tumbles. Sometimes, when a teacher asks a question, I'll have the answer formed perfectly in my head, but I won't answer because I know the words won't come out right and no complete thoughts will, um, actually be—Oh my God, what's the word—uttered so, uh, yeah... It's in large part due to my CP and the self-consciousness that comes with it. Like a two-for-one deal that I don't remember asking for.
But okay whatever. Before I start ranting on my disability. Words are everywhere and they need to get out before I explode. Someway, somehow, but how? How on earth do you speak without epically failing, Jude?
For a while, I searched high and low for the answer. Until, one day, I happened across this little book called Holes, and I realized words don't actually have to be spoken to be heard. They could be written. I'd read other books before, but those were always for school, and there was something magical about that book, something about the style and grace in which Louis Sachar handled the story, that spoke to my little fifth-grade mind. I'd also seen the movie a few times before, so maybe I was a little biased with that, but that doesn't really matter. Besides, watching the movie and reading the book? Two completely different experiences.
I'd always been a storyteller. I was a little girl who lived in her head. The first story I remember writing was in the second grade and it was about this girl who had to go to a haunted school and she freaked out when she saw a bloody face in the mirror that wasn't hers—in gory honor of the Bloody Mary story that was surfacing and terrifying the living shit out of little girls who refused to even go inside a school bathroom—and ran out of the school.
The story wasn't good, but at the time, I thought it was the single best piece of writing ever. I wanted to have it framed. When I realized that it wasn't all that great, finally, I thought I could never get better and I stopped. I started telling, actually speaking, stories instead. But it became increasingly hard to get words out to people and I'd get mixed up and confused and annoyed with everything because people were patient with me but I wasn't patient with myself.
My parents always told me I could be anything, do anything. I'd never even considered going into a career that involved public speaking, but if I had, the thought of that option would've probably flown out the window as soon as it came through the window. Because, no matter how optimistic I am, how encouraging my parents are, believe it or not, there are some things I can't do. There are some things I'll never be able to do, and I don't think my anxiety will ever let me make a career out of talking to large crowds of people.
I read Holes at a time that was sort of dark for me, a time when I was starting to really come to terms with myself and the fact that I wasn't able to speak as clearly as I might want to, and the story about the misfit kid who always had bad luck resonated with me.
And I wondered what else could resonate with me. I started reading, like really reading, on my own, not because I was forced to for school assignments, and I discovered more words on pages and more beauty and expression and just everything about the universe can lie in those words and you didn't even have to speak them.
I started writing to get words and ideas out. And I write. Because, most of the time, writing is as difficult as speaking out loud, but it's also easier to do. I write everything. I write these sappy poems and I get weirded out when people tell me these poems are great because the sappiness levels often fly off the charts. I write stories with super humans and people severing heads because revenge and reasons. I write transcendental—my friend said that, not me; I tend to not be nearly as complimentary to myself—commentaries about how it feels to be a person in this world.
I don't know if there was ever a specific moment in time when I decided I wanted to be a writer. I didn't wake up one day and just go, You know what? I'm gonna be a writer! Yay for definite future plans! There wasn't this huge epiphany and a bright yellow brick road leading me to my destiny. But I think reading Holes by myself was one of the first steps I took towards maybe, possibly finding that magic road. I still haven't found it but that's beside the point. The book gave me that shove I needed. Not all readers are writers, but all writers are readers. I think I just needed that first book.
And there may not even be a magical road for me to find, but there are so many things that help me in my search for it. Over the summer last year, I got accepted into a writing class called Grub Street, and I got to meet some very talented writers. I remember being like how in the world did I get into this program? I mean, these kids could write and I didn't even understand how I compared to them. I got better at listening to constructive criticism—I think my former English teacher would be proud because he was always saying how I needed to stop being so sensitive—and I learned more about myself as a writer and as a person. For instance, I'm great at dialogue, but I'm not so great at avoiding cliches.
The teachers there kept telling us about how we had to be fresh and original no matter what, and one assignment in particular was to describe what falling in love is like in an unconventional way. I kept picking up my pen, thinking I'd have an idea but really not having an idea at all. The assignment brought me back to English class and how the same teacher who was telling me to stop being so sensitive—writers have to develop a thick skin, Jude—told us students the same thing all year and how I would groan and roll my eyes whenever he said this.
At the end of the program, we had a final reading. It was nerve-wracking—I remember freaking out like why do I have to do this I thought I was in writing class not a damn reading class—but people kept coming up to me after and telling me how my short story about the aftermath of an earthquake inspired them. I was on top of the world.
I realized that there is always something new to observe, there are always new ideas that come up, new words that need to get expressed. And, in the past year, I've bounced around from what I think kids with superpowers would do to what it would it be like in a post-apocalyptic disaster with monsters running around to the mind of a psychopath trying to rid the world of competition.
I write because that's how I communicate the random stuff in my head with the world. I am basically a collection of words. I'm all the words I don't speak, all the words I've read and heard and want to read and hear, all the words I've got floating in my head. I'm all the ideas I need to put into a story. I'm just words on pages.