Becoming the Writer That I’ve Always Been

By: Julia Alexander

(Creative Commons/ Flickr)

Ever since I could read and write, I have been infatuated with storytelling. I remember the desk in my childhood bedroom overflowing with half-filled notebooks and the scraps of torn out pages. My handwriting, barely legible to anyone but myself, was scrawled across papers that were stalked high like mountains. My older sister, always vigilant, tried to help me organize the mess that I had willingly created. However, we eventually gave up on reeling in my creative chaos because every time that she would try to throw something away, I would insist that it was an essential part of the story that I was creating. Nothing was trash; all of it was part of my childhood writing process.

But were they all essential? My childhood-creativity fueled mind seemed to think so. I only remember the details of a few stories that I wrote when I was young. Some were silly, often they felt inconsequential, but there were more serious stories as well. Looking back on it now, many of my pieces involved the real life experiences that I was dealing with at the time. While I thought I was writing just for fun, I was really writing to cope with the traumatic events that I was still too young to fully process. There was one story in particular that comes to mind, one that I wrote when I was about nine or ten. The plot basically involves me dying and going to heaven where I am reunited with my cousin who had just died in a car accident. At the end of the story, my cousin is allowed to come back to the world and live with us. At the time, I wasn’t aware that I was using writing as a coping mechanism. I wasn’t even thinking about how distraught I was over my cousin’s death. Instead, I was just thinking about what a good story it would be if the people that we love don’t always have to leave us.

Thinking about this feels strange in a way. I had previously thought that my writing style has evolved completely from what it was when I was younger. I’m sure that most people would like to think that they have grown as well. However, the concepts that I am interested in have not changed that much. I am still using my writing in order to explore the things that I still do not understand fully: death, religion, loss and love, etcetera.

I think that coping is a skill that we all develop at some point. Life is frequently unpleasant and we need to develop ways to mentally process our environment. I have been lucky enough to be able to use writing as an outlet, even when I didn’t know that I needed that particular emotional crutch.

We all need a way to express our joys, to relish in the beauty and hilarity of what surrounds us. I often struggle to use the lighter side of life as inspiration for my writing. I find myself being caught up in what others expect from me as a writer. It is as if I have set a trap for myself, writing about serious things with the hope of being taken seriously. Hopefully, this part of my writing will evolve soon as well.

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