(I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because I’ve had too much coffee. I can’t see straight because my eyeballs keep twitching.)
Writing saved my life. While others snuck cigarettes or did drugs, dressing in goth clothes, I wrote stories. Stories helped me deal with my world, my loneliness, and the confusion I always felt. I had one goal.
This goal wasn’t college. I didn’t intend to become a doctor or lawyer. That required math skills and money which I did not have. I admired writers as old as Carolyn Keene or Grace Livingston Hill. My goal was to become like them. In fact, at a youth camp we were asked to write where we think the year 2000 would find us.
I said, “I will be a writer living on a ranch.”
It is 2013, and I am a writer living in a small town, surrounded by the most beautiful wilderness. Antelope graze in the open prairies between here and work. Mountain ranges tower above the prairies and hiking is just five minutes from the house. While it’s not a ranch, it is something better—a house I own that I never thought I’d be able to buy, a stable home life with a husband who loves me and shares similar goals, and solitude not far from the house. City life never made me this happy.
Even in the city, I pretended I lived in the wilderness from my imaginative enchanted forests in the corner of the apartment complex I lived as a little girl to the large parks with the rolling green lawns that were expansive prairies of untold adventure. I wrote stories in high school, using real names, then read them out loud on the school steps to my friends who wanted to know what adventure they were going to have that day.
At eighteen years old, one of my science teachers had me write a novella for extra credit. It was my first science-fiction novel and she was going to try to help me get it published. That was until she grew sick, took a leave of absence, and I never saw that teacher or novella again. The teacher, years later, wandered into a store I worked at as a young adult. She had black circles beneath her eyes and used a cane to get around. I felt too sad to ask her about my novella. This teacher had helped me understand a difficult subject. After high school, I received a rewrite request on a short story from Marion Zimmer Bradley’s magazine; a personal note from the editor scribbled on the card.
I didn’t follow through.
For a while, I lost my voice though I wrote many stories. I wrote carefully and cowardly. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I locked into my writing voice and suddenly became more focused on my career. I had been set free. My voice found traction and courage in a new world.
I live in the real world now, vacationing sometimes in my created worlds, and look forward to the challenges of being a Christian in an increasingly hostile world. I write both secular and Christian stuff, but the incredible freedom I feel of speaking my mind and of believing I am capable of doing new things, reminds me of the lost girl I was and the woman I have become. Writing saved my life and that’s the blessing of imagination. My one goal from high school is still today—to write stories.
What about you? What was your goal in high school and what do your goals look like now?