Saturday, March 9, 2013

I am Not a Teen Writer

I am a writer.

I sit curled in corners with my laptop balanced on my knees, the keyboard chattering beneath my fingers, a story spilling onto my screen. I strain my eyes squinting at my dim computer screen in the ungodly hours of morning. I stay up into the even ungodlier hours of night trying to patch up plot holes or developing characters or figuring out what to say to Oprah when she asks me to be in her book club.

I am a teenager.

I waste money on clothes I don't need (also at Cherry Berry, because what's the world without frozen yogurt?). I procrastinate. I have a microwave and a goldfish in our editing room for the school newspaper, both of which are strictly prohibited by the school. I do stupid things. I go to Walmart with my friends, and we race each other in shopping carts. I pull all-nighters before exams. I worry about college. I'm afraid of responsibility.

I am a writer. I am a teenager. But I am not a teen writer.

We don't call 30-year old writers "adult writers" (I mean, unless they write for adults, but THAT DOESN'T COUNT). We don't call 50-year olds "middle-aged writers." We don't call 70-year old writers "senior writers." But we're free with the "teen writer" label, and too often, that label is associated with phrases like, they took pity on you Or they want to use your age as a marketing strategy. Or you're good, for your age.

Listen up. I don't want to be good for my age.

I want to write. I want to get better. I want other people to read the manuscript I've spent hundreds of hours working on. I want what every other writer wants.

I'm not saying that my age doesn't matter--it does, because being sixteen affects me every bit as much as being a writer does. But being sixteen doesn't make me less of a writer. Being a writer doesn't make me less of a teenager.

We are writers. We don't measure ourselves in years, or successes, or failures. We measure ourselves in words. In drafts. In revisions. In the mistakes we learned from. In the stories we promised to tell.

I am not a teen writer. I'm just a writer.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why I Write

I have a confession to make. Last week, our AP English teacher told us to write a "Why I Write" post as homework. Well, I kind of forgot to do it, and ended up reposting my "This is Why" post on my school blog. I know, I'm a terrible person.

So, this week, I'm (finally) writing my "Why I Write" post.

*clears throat*




I don't know.

I don't know why I write. I write because I breathe. I write because I have to. I write because I don't know how to stop.

Maybe I write because I'm a narcissist. Or maybe I write because I doubt myself. Maybe neither. Maybe both (probably both). Maybe it's just that I love that letters make words and words, stories. Or that I love beautiful things, and a story is the most beautiful thing of all.

Maybe I write because there are too many worlds and not enough bridges. Because there are many chasms and many faults, many directions to go and many reasons to run away. Because I'm a dreamer. Because when I jump, I do so knowing that I might fall flat on my face. But maybe I write because I know that I may also fly.

Maybe I write because my head is full of doors, otherworlds, caged stories. There are so many stories to tell, so many beating hearts, so many breaths and bodies and lives. Maybe I write because I can't resist the lure of motion, or maybe because I'm afraid of passing moments and oblivion. Maybe I write because I don't want to let go.

Maybe I write because I'm insane and writing makes me more insane and less insane and embrace insanity. Maybe I write because the sound of tapping keys organizes my confusion, quiets my neuroticism and obsessiveness and nerves, makes my fear of failure a very small and silly thing.

Maybe I write to remind myself that I'm not alone, that I'm not the only person on the planet who is sad or lonely or afraid, that we all have hidden tears and fake smiles. Maybe I write to give myself a voice, a place, a name, a reason, a choice.

I don't know why I write. I don't know why I started. All I know is that I do write, that I will always write, that I love to write. And that's what matters.