I was in 10th grade when I decided I wanted to be a writer.
I had always loved writing. In elementary school, I kept a journal that I wrote in every day about a life I didn’t have. My parents were concerned when they stumbled across it one day, unsure what to make about this parallel life their daughter was pretending to have in diary form. It was hard trying to explain to them that no, I wasn’t lying, because I wasn’t going around and tellinganyone this was my actual life. Nor did I believe in it. It was just a journal I was keeping. About a girl that was kinda like me but wasn’t me but also kinda was. I don’t know if they ever got it or decided to just let it go, but after awhile, they stopped giving me the side eye and that blue notebook always stayed where I left it.
By the time I hit middle school, I was actively writing stories. Actual stories. A few of my short ones got published in our school’s “literary magazine” and at least one made it to the local paper when they featured something on the local students. But if you would have asked me back then, I wouldn’t have said I wanted to be a writer. I just liked doing it. There was something about words that seduced me and I didn’t even know what seducing was. I knew there was magic in words though. That they were powerful things that could be used to either build or destroy and I was fascinated by that power. I wanted to weld it. Tame it. I wanted to make it mine.
But 10th grade, my sophomore year, that’s when it hit me: I want to be a writer.
I also wanted to a behavior analyst for the FBI, but I figured I could write my books on the side.
Throughout high school, I wasn’t afraid to express this whenever a teacher asked.
“What do you plan on doing with your life after school, Kristy?”
I had teachers that encouraged that dream, former teachers that still encourage that dream, and I had teachers that scoffed at it. Told me that writers are a dime a dozen, but authors, authors, that was like being a lottery winner.
“Do you really think you have what it takes to be published?”
“Who said anything about being published? I said I want to write.”
(Of course I wanted to be published. Doesn’t every writer, ultimately, want to be published? But still. I was making a point. I think.)
But no matter if they were urging me on or shooting me down, my answer never wavered. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to write things that were true and things that weren’t true and maybe things that were a little bit of both. I wanted to dream up things that no one had ever seen before or hadn’t seen in a long time or maybe seen yesterday. I wanted to use my words to build things, glorious things, things that were bigger than me.
I changed career dreams many times in the years since then. I wanted to be a cosmetologist. I wanted to be an ultrasound tech. I thought about being a social worker or something with child advocacy. I thought about being a speech therapist or even a special ed teacher. I wanted, desperately, to own my own salon with a tattoo artist working there. I even had a name picked out. Currently, I’m planning on going to school to become an LPN then looking in to becoming a lactation consultant. Or possibly something in the mental health field. But these are just day jobs. These are just things to bring in a paycheck while doing what I really want to do: write. When people ask me what I do, I won’t tell them I’m a cosmetologist or a lactation consultant or an LPN. I don’t tell them now that I plan on going to school to pursue one of those careers. When people ask me whatit is I do, I tell them I’m a writer. Because that’s what I am. What I always have been, since before I knew what I was doing and was worrying my parents with the lives I was making up. I am not saying I’m a great writer or even a good writer, I’m not saying that I will be published one day and I will make all the best sellers’ lists and my name will become a household one. I’m saying I write. That writing to me is like breathing, it’s something I have to do. I’m saying that there’s words tumbling in my head and characters and dialogue and plot lines that are warring for dominance in my thoughts. I’m saying that I carry a notebook and pen with me wherever I go because sometimes I have to stop in the middle of the grocery store and jot down an idea because I’m always thinking of writing even when I’m not. I’m saying that I believe in other worlds, that I create them and destroy them and I do it all with the English language.
It might not pay the bills, it might never pay the bills, but I’ll always be a writer.