When I first started this blog in February, I started it solely as a means to an end. I planned on using it to write reviews and make my newest short stories more easily accessible for people. Since then, I’ve necessarily been through a lot of personal growth. All things considered my life hasn’t been all that interesting these past few years. But I changed something in myself the day I decided to commit to five hundred words.
Before then, spanning all the way back to the early days of high school, I struggled with who I was to be. Even that long ago, I had considered myself a writer, but at the time if somebody tried to refute that I would have no counterargument. I didn’t really read or write back then. I had a world in my head and a story to tell, but I lacked the motivation to commit to it. I didn’t read much, either, and what I did read was strictly out of school lectures, which vacuumed all the enjoyment I could get from words on a page.
In my sophomore year I finally sat down and wrote my first book (The Soldier of Nadu), something I had been writing the first chapter of over and over. I got it professionally printed (not published) by Lulu, and that gave me the confidence to be able to prove to people that I really was a writer.
But, my first real task accomplished, and not being old enough to really do anything with it, I stopped. I didn’t really know how to edit longer works (and, admittedly, I haven’t learned much since on that front), and I certainly wasn’t about to try and publish it, even through self-publishing. But I wrote it, so I was done.
All the seniors at the school I went to had to do what was called a “Senior Project”. It boiled down to something big you can put on a resume and, hopefully, learn a lot from. This goes from teaching kids, to directing one of the school plays, to writing an album or inventing something. The only real caveat to this was that in order to get your idea approved, you had to prove to the administration that you would be learning something from this project. They wouldn’t let you simply write an album when you are already a songwriter. “It has to have a learning curve” as they had often said.
I sat there with my unedited book, scratching my head. I had already written it. I couldn’t write another one, because that wouldn’t involve enough self education. It had been years since I had written the book at that point, so even my pitiful amounts of subsequent writing and personal experience had made the book an embarrassingly atrocious read on the part of its creator. So I resolved to rewrite it as an entirely new draft, edit said draft, and self-publish it as my debut novel. Long story short, that year I had also taken four AP classes and was doing more improv with my troupe than ever (I wasn’t coach at the time), and I didn’t have time to do any of that. I rewrote the first third of the book, and to this day it remains untouched.
After high school, I decided to write five hundred words a day. I had, after all, heard that many an author enhanced their skill just by sitting down and bleeding over the keyboard on a daily basis. I had taken this to mean they wrote fiction every day (which is admittedly probably true), and had resolved to do it myself. At the time, however, I simply didn’t have five hundred words of fiction in me every day. That personal challenge turned into “the equivalent of five hundred words a day” (meaning I would allow myself to write thirty five hundred words on a single day once a week if that’s how it had to be), but even that proved too difficult. It became “One short story a week” until finally, I gave up. This challenge did produce one of my all time favorite short stories of mine, Warstorm, but beyond that it was a complete failure. I hated pretty much everything else that resulted from it.
Enter 2016. I had fallen into something of a depression (though nothing comparable to my junior and senior year for reasons I won’t get into), and I resolved that everything that I wanted was out of reach and all I could do was wait for it to become accessible. I wasn’t driving, I wasn’t experienced enough to write well, and I had given up hope that I would find reciprocated love before I even graduated college. I confessed all these troubles to a friend of mine, and she stated flatly that all of her friends did the same thing: complain about what they didn’t have when they could just be happy instead.
So that’s what I did. I started to try my luck at making myself happy. I always thought that writing a blog might be fun, so I tried it. It hasn’t solved all my problems, of course. But I think I’m a much stronger person for having done it. If nothing else, five hundred words means almost nothing to me anymore. Not to mention the fact that every week I publish a story (or piece of one) that is virtually always over fifteen hundred words long. I couldn’t even manage that an entire year ago. And on top of all that, I’m pretty dang stressed right now. And I’m still chugging away. So, go me.
Unnecessary backstory aside, I think my thought process behind starting the blog is something we don’t do for ourselves enough. I was cynical, and hated everything about my position. One day, I decided to start being positive, and I’m so much happier for it. It’s not some magic bean that I discovered was growing in my backyard (whoops accidental drug reference). Sometimes you have to force yourself to be happy.
But you know what?
It’s worth it.