In college I remember one night after Creative Writing class I was so focused, so determined to get down the story in my head that I holed myself up at a desk in the main building and grabbed my pen, writing as fast as I could, scribbling on the backs of other pages, determined to get the mishmash of words down and fleshed into form. The words were like glass nuggets, each so shiny and perfect, coming together like they had been issued to my pen.
My brain found just the right descriptions, the exact percentage of eye rolling, tongue-in-cheek humor necessary for writing about a night in high school. Maybe the scene was a cliche, hanging out with my friends at the amusement park, Riverside, waiting to meet guys and then we did. Only the details were slippery. Kim and I both wanted the taller one with the beautiful teeth and then I tried to back off, let her have him. I forced myself to hook up with the sidekick, with his bad teeth and spotty skin. In the story, life was flipped and I was the tall guy, struggling to use my charm, awkward in my oversized shoes but trying to be smooth, to make it happen.
And everything fell apart. I tried to charm her the best I could, told er I was on the football team. I was inside his brain and the words were mine, ours, just coming to me all at once. This was the flow I’d heard of. The runner’s high, only it was writing. I was high on the creation, the carving, getting it down and touching up the details that made it mine. I couldn’t wait to turn that story in the next week in class. I was a proud writer. Was I a writer? I had no reason to call myself that but deep down I’d always known that was what it was growing in me, taking hold.
When it happened, there was such raw emotion coming out onto the pages. I took my own pain, the awkward experiences, the uncertainty, fumbling in the dark for mental zippers and used that in my characters. That was what made me write. I wanted those tiny cuts in my soul to help others heal themselves, to forget their own pain long enough to follow my words and journey together toward the other side.