by Smriti Verma, Age 15, India
My love connection with words began when I was thirteen years old, when words came easy to me and so did encouragement. My stories were clichéd, un-edited lumps of clay that found appreciation only on obscure message boards. To put it bluntly, I found writing an enjoyable activity, actually rather too enjoyable since it posed no challenges for me. When it came to writing, I was naïve, ignorant and an amateur.
Since then, I have grown and improved, or so I hope. This improving process began only when I turned fifteen, when I started to put the necessary pressure on myself to improve my writing, to push myself beyond what I was acquainted with, to think outside the box, to experiment with various styles, and become a better writer.
However, this pressure––which I believe most authors deal with, whether it is a form of anxiety or apprehension––got the better of me. Writing began to feel more like work than pleasure, and the ideas and the stories I made up in my mind never came to fruition, since I never let them. As soon as I began to lift my fingers to type a few words it started to feel like a burden, like a noose around my neck. Earlier, whenever I would open a word document, the words would simply begin to flow, crafting tales which I could not believe came out of the grey matter in my head. Writing no longer came to me naturally. Each time I typed a sentence the flaws glowered in my face.
Then it occurred to me: why should I pursue an activity that clearly does not make me happy anymore?
Perhaps it was the nagging need to be the best each time I put my pen to paper or the lack of encouragement. The former reason still bothers me at times. Whenever I begin to visualize somebody judging my work, I immediately distance myself from writing. The latter reason is something that I believe affects all of us, who seek to pursue our talents despite what the others say. However, as a writer one should learn to face criticism and rejection with humility and remember the fact that the views of one person are simply one of many. We must go on even if the going gets hard because now we have chosen our paths and we must stick to it.
It is hard to make it as an artist in the 21st century, and to do so you first have to stand apart from others, craft your own tone and perfect it, and then perhaps begin to furnish a name for yourself in the industry. However, in this drive to stand apart from others, many of us have alienated ourselves from the core that drives us to become artists in the first place, something that is deeply embedded in each of us which goes beyond mere determination or stubbornness and brings us to the pedestal of our nirvanas.
It was this determination, this desire to write, I felt had deserted me for good. It did not matter that I felt empty in certain definitions because the burden itself was lifted from my shoulders. I wondered whether I should continue writing at all, and the scales began to tip in favour of the negative. I reinforced myself with the belief that I wasn’t a good writer and would never be one. Perhaps I should start finding something else to occupy my time.
A few days later, I was informed that I was a finalist in the 2014 International Junior Authors Short Story Contest. It ignited a certain spark within me, telling me of the time I used to stay awake at night for the simple pleasure of writing, or when I would walk around in school carrying a pen in my right hand and a paper in my left, and of all the mentoring sessions my English teacher gave me when she saw my knack for writing.
Following this, I decided to go for NaNoWriMo in 2014 with an idea for a novel that had been swimming around in my head for quite awhile. After days of not thinking and writing my heart out, a moment came when I was sitting in class and I finally felt something I had not felt properly for almost two years: a desire to write.
Being a teenage writer, I have read enough quotes and written enough personal stories to know how good it feels when the emotion and the desire for writing come bursting out. But these situations were unfortunately rare for me. They were moments that came in increments, which were to be captured and recollected during times when writing felt too hard to do. It was these moments from which enough courage could be found to begin again, to simply get writing, and remember the reason why I began to write.
This personal essay was the winner of a LTC Insider Plus+ Members weekly writing challenge.