“Had I not created my whole world, I would have certainly died in other people’s.” –Anaïs Nin
I love this quote because I feel like it describes me in this stage of my life. Yes I’m a writer, but writing is so much more than forming sentences and printing words on paper. Writing is an art, an act of creation made with words. Words can be so beautiful, so captivating and, at least in my case, lifesaving.
As of October 20, 2013, I am officially an author (and I can’t even explain how exciting that is!). I’m an author because I have stories to tell–including the one of how I became an author.
One year ago I had absolutely no intention of being an author. The idea that I could actually publish a book before I had ‘grown up’ didn’t even cross my mind. In November 2012 my English teacher gave the challenge of NaNoWriMo* as an assignment.
*NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is basically this: you sign up for a free account online at nanowrimo.org where you track your word count. During the month of November you try to write a novel–50,000 words in 30 days. It seems crazy and impossible, especially for a junior in high school, but I decided to accept this daunting challenge. And it’s arguably the best thing I’ve ever done.
Through this program, a brain of ideas, a great support system, and hundreds of hours, Surviving On A Whisper became what it is today. Arie’s story was transferred from my head to the page and is now available for anyone to read. It’s really scary to have something so personal be public, especially for a reserved person like me. It’s even scarier because this isn’t just Arie’s story–it’s mine too.
Since June of 2012 I’ve been battling some major medical problems. Long story short, I’ve had to completely relearn how to walk. It’s been awful and damaging, both physically and mentally, and it’s seemingly never ending. During this long period of essentially sitting in bed and doing nothing, Arie was born. It was subconscious at first; Arie was someone who I created in my head to keep me company. It wasn’t until my English teacher announced NaNoWriMo that I realized that I actually had created her story through my own survival story.
Now, I don’t have murderous bad guys chasing me (obviously), my parents are pretty normal and I’ve never had a brother. Right now my biggest enemies are my math homework, my alarm, and my legs. In that regard, Arie’s situation is very different from mine. However, I did have something done to my body, something agonizing and traumatizing, that destroyed my life. This event was a catalyst that threw me into many more situations, both happy and horrible.
Because of this change in my life, my eyes have been opened to a new light. I can no longer see the world the way others do or the way I used to. Some days I consider it a curse, but I love the days when it’s a blessing. It allows me to connect with people on a much different and more personal level than I ever could have before. I try to put this new ‘sight’ to use, more for my own sake, and create something out of the distorted shapes I now see. This act now defines me. It’s what I live for–It’s how I live and how I cope.
One lonely summer day in 2012, I wondered what it would be like to have someone that knew what I was going through. In my head I saw my fictional counterpart: Arie. And I wondered what it would be like if she had to feel a bunch of physical pain but she also lost a lot of things. I took away from her the one thing that was keeping me sane: a home. Not just a place to live and feel safe, but a family that loves her, takes care of her and wants what’s best for her. What if she lost that? What if she lost the one thing that was most important to me in my life?
I chased that idea, filling up the empty bedridden days with Arie’s stories. She became my best friend, almost like a sister to me. She helped me through every bad day of mine and I helped her with hers. A few months later I started NaNoWriMo and now I have Surviving on a Whisper.
That’s the story. It’s hard to explain to other people, but this book quite literally saved my life. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have made it without Arie and yet I would have never found Arie if it weren’t for some horrible circumstances. Sometimes the worst thing in your life will bring the best thing to it. Life has a funny way of messing with us.
I live in the world I created because I can handle it better than this world. Some say I’m crazy, others that I’m visionary. Some say it’s a childish lifestyle, others argue that I lose sense of the real world. Maybe they’re right. How am I to know? There’s only one thing I know for sure: fantasy saved my reality. This fictional place I created saved me from the monster my real world had become.
And so I am eternally indebted to Arie, the truest friend I have ever known. She is why I write.