Monday, November 9, 2009

I Write Because I Owe It to My Twelve Year Old Self

When I read Wendy The Super Librarian’s post on, But What I Really Want To Do Is Write, where she talks about NaNoWriMo and how reader bloggers who want to be aspiring authors, I proudly raised my hand and admitted that I was one of them.

My journey where I was a reader turned writer is an emotional one. Two events occurred that made me want to write the stories I have running around in my head in the hopes that perhaps one day the public would read them an enjoy them.

The first major event was when I first read Gone With the Wind the summer I turned thirteen. I’ve talked about this before in length how this book turned me on to reading in general. Another important fact was that reading quite possibly saved my life. It sounds a bit too serious or ridiculous to think that a book or finding the love of reading can save a life. But in a way it did.

When I was a child growing up, I was considered an outcast. I was always picked last for sports, always ate alone, played by myself, was the only one never invited to birthdays or over for play dates. I was a big, very tall girl with a haircut that made me look like a boy and wore glasses until I was twelve. Finally when I was twelve, something came over me. I became very depressed and lonely. I joke that I am a self proclaimed eccentric, but as a little girl I was a freak, a loser. The main reason I felt like this was because of some cruel influences in my life. I only had one friend at that time who really did an emotional mind trip on my psyche. This friend, who was a part of my life for way too long, made me feel like I was worthless. She treated me like shit and because of that I began to feel like that. I became closed off, a shell of my former self. I decided to go as far as to take out a book at the library on suicide and ways to kill your self. I’ve never admitted this before but I almost walked out in traffic hoping a car would run me over as I walked home from school. That was how close I was to erasing my existence on this Earth.

Someone or something was watching me that day, because I didn’t harm myself in that way. I think it was because I believe in God, Heaven and Hell and all those things. And if I killed myself I would end up in hell. So instead I was dying slowly inside, where I no longer cared about myself.

Perhaps it was fate but by the summer of my thirteenth year I needed something to change or I would continue in this downward spiral with no way out. Gone With the Wind gave me the will to live again. My new idol was Scarlett O’Hara. Her no nonsense attitude, where she wouldn’t put up with anything, taken no prisoners, I’m not leaving and you can’t make me even with my home burning all around me, gave me a new outlook on life. I would take everything I read about Scarlett and use it in my life. I was fed up with being pathetic and having others walk all over me. I found the will to live again and turn away from those negative influences that ruled my life for so long.

I found that in books you don’t need to be a part of a crowd or accepted. By reading and losing myself in these worlds and characters others created I felt as if I belonged. Books became my friends. Those who made me feel as if I were better off dead, where pushed away. And as I read hundreds of books, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to write, to invent my own world where someone like me, who almost felt as if she wasn’t worth living, would find the will to live by reading my words and the characters I created.

The day I knew I wanted to be a writer was my freshman year in high school. I went to a very small Catholic private school and my years there were very special. I was accepted for who I was because there were so many different types of students from colors, and races to weight and height. It was also a very creative place. One day I saw one of the seniors writing in a very colorful journal. I asked her about it thinking it was her diary. She told me it was more than her diary, where she would write poems, short stories, and opinions about life. She recommended I do the same.

I took her advice and from then on I wrote poems about everything and anything. All it took was one event or a feeling and I needed to write about it. I started writing one page poems, not even one-hundred words, then I moved to longer poems, finally short stories that grew to be hundreds of words. By the time I left college, I had gone through five journals and moved on to placing my poems and stories in binders.

My twenties were where I put my writing aside and lived life. I still read up a storm, but I wanted experiences I would never forget, I traveled, stayed out all night, got drunk, dated and everything else I wanted to do that I felt I couldn’t when I was a teenager.

When I turned thirty, the writing bug came back to me. In part it was due to reviewing for different on line review sites and blogging where I would write posts that would end up being longer than I wanted them to be. Then I found out about NaNoWriMo, where I could tests my limits of how much I could write in a month.

I remember last year when I was in the middle of NaNoWriMo and I thought there was no way I could reach 50,000 words. I talked to an author and was upset because I was only averaging about 500 words a day. She told me I should be proud of the amount I was writing. It wasn’t good enough for me. And so, I decided to push myself and reached that goal. And from then on the need to write will not stop.

The first week this year’s NaNoWriMo has passed and I am writing over 3,000 words a day. My goal is not 50,000 but 60,000 words. This is to prove to myself, to that little girl who almost gave up on life has succeeded. From that moment when her mother handed her a book that changed her life, to a student at her school who gave her an amazing piece of advice, I have found my purpose, my self worth.

Of course my goal is to become published. That is where I am dreaming the impossible dream. Would I be okay if I don’t ever get published, where the public at large never sees my writings? Yes, I would because writing is in my soul. Just as picking up a book to read is more important than watching television or going out for a night on the town, my will to write and to create something I can be proud of is for me alone.

My legacy will be my written words, whether it is in a book store for all to see or in boxes filled with binders in an attic, where one day someone from my family will pick it up and read it knowing I did have a purpose, and it didn’t end suddenly that day when that twelve year old girl almost ran out into traffic. I owe it to that twelve year old with the bad hair cut and glasses by not stepping off the sidewalk and into traffic that she was brave enough not to give up.

Reading and writing for me go hand in hand. So as a reader and a writer, I will always do both and relish every moment of it.



AnimeJune said...


I always wanted to write, but I think what brought it home to me was in the 12 grade. I'd decided I might want to be come a teacher in Grade 10 and spent the next couple of years convinced I wanted to be a teacher. Then in 12th grade I got a letter from myself - that I'd written in grade 9. In it, I said my goals about growing up and what I wanted to be (and that was a writer), and I was surprised to discover I still felt that way, and that I still had a LOT of doubts about becoming an elementary school teacher.

Also, speaking up for girls in boy's haircuts - I had eyebrows that would put Brooke Shields in the 80s to shame and a buzz cut because I was too lazy to brush my hair - for most of the elementary I was called ElizaBoy as a result. Books were always there, even if friends were not. :)

Smokinhotbooks said...

You go girl. Speaking of awkward parents, god love them, used to buy my clothes from Eddie Bauer. This is not a bad store, but it's like the Chico's for the west coast. I had horrible bangs and wore these god awful bright fluorescent shorts down to my knees with a matching vest. I turned to R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike to get over my awkward teenage years.

RKCharron said...

Hi Katie :)
Thank you for sharing such a personal heart-felt post. Reading does provide a much needed escape from a miserable reality, as does writing. Great books do save lives. And congratulations on the great wordcount and perseverance in NaNo.
Thank you again,
Love & Best Wishes,

Kwana said...

Beautiful post Kate. I can totally relate to that very hard time. I was the awkward girl with the boy haircut too. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

mynfel said...

Hmmm...yes - I could have written this as well. (With a few adjustments).

Very happy you've pulled everything together and congrats on the NaNo. (I'm there too - it's great to see everyone writing their little hearts out). :)

Janicu said...

Thanks for this post. *hugs*. It's so true how how books (both reading and writing) can save you. Lilith Saintcrow wrote a good post about writing saving her at Deadline Dames, and the post at Dear Author about a reader who survived abuse by escaping in books almost made me cry.

Chris said...

OOh! Weird! How many of us had boy haircuts and weird glasses? What were our moms thinking?

I can totally relate. Just turned 31, doing my first NaNo, used to write a ton (though I stuck with poetry)and now just getting back to it fiction-wise. Oh and now I'm the one needing the pep talks and you're the one dishing them out. Thanks!

Mandi said...

Awesome story - dude - I had total bad hair cut too..what was our parents thinking?!?

Books were a wonderful thing for me too...Although I don't feel the intensity to write as you do, I often feel like I should be "pushing" books on other adolescents, in hopes of making their lives better.

orannia said...

Thank you KB for an amazing heartfelt post!

This is to prove to myself, to that little girl who almost gave up on life has succeeded.

Just the fact that you wrote this post - that you are writing now - you have succeeded. Succeeded in living your life according to you, not according to the twisted views of others. And I think that little girl was incredibly brave to fight for what you wanted - the chance to be herself and be happy. (((((KB)))))

All the best for NaNoWriMo!

Kris said...

I think one of the biggest battles we fight in our lives is the battle to believe in ourselves and to be true to ourselves.

Thank you for sharing yours with us, Katiebabs chook.

Lisa said...

That's a very inspiring post, thanks for writing it.

I never suffered from depression as a kid and I think it was partly because I wouldn't take my head out of a book long enough to realize that I was left out of a lot of stuff.

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Thanks everyone. I hope this post can aspire others to stick with their dreams.

Liza said...

Go Katie! I know you will succeed in your writing and I can't wait to read your first published book.

I've always been one of those people to lose myself in books too. I had friends growing up, but still felt like a bit of an outsider. Books were my saving grace too.

Penelope said...

Katie, Gone With The Wind changed my life, too! I remember dragging around that huge honkin' book for weeks (it must have weighed about 40 pounds!)--good luck with your writing goals. What sort of genre are you working on right now? I would love to hear about what kind of stories you are writing.
Good luck!--Penny

heidenkind said...

Wonderful post, KB! I can sympathize, definitely.

I think it's wonderful that you're writing now, and I agree with AnimeJune: ROCK ON!

Bridget Locke said...

Oh, girl, are you sure we aren't twins who were separated at birth? Seriously, reading this post totally wigged me out in the sense that I went thru the EXACT same thing.

Except I was the extremely tall, extremely developed young lady who wasn't allowed to wear pants until I was 14. Yes, if that didn't make me stand out like a sore thumb... lol

I hate Gone With The Wind, but I know that's just me. I've been reading since I can remember. The books that stick out to me are the Betsy/Tacy books and the Trixie Belden books. *sigh* Now those are some good memories. :)


MicheleKS said...

Very touching post.

I thank God I had parents who encouraged my reading as I was painfully shy then and still very shy now. In fact I hate to say this, sometimes I prefer books to people.

Best of luck with your writing.

Lusty Reader said...

im so touched by your heart-rending turned heart-warming story!

sounds like many obesseive readers have some of the same roots! my dad was transferred for work every 2 years so i never had any friends growing up as we moved too much and i was always "the new girl." books were my only friends until college.