Monday, February 25, 2013

A Step Out

Ten years after writing it, I still remember the first words of my college entrance essay—I have always defined myself as a writer. I scribbled those words, and the rest of my essay, onto a single sheet of notebook paper, during my junior year of high school. Growing up, I had changing career interests—lawyer, archaeologist, teacher, philosopher—and yet always, even as a grade school girl hanging upside-down on the monkey bars, I was writer. It has been how I've made sense of my world, how I comprehended not only others, but myself. I wrote at my small desk before bed, in the car, staring out my bedroom window that looked onto the street, about the man picking up his mail in the afternoon sun.

The summer before I started junior-high, I began to work on my first book. I still have those spiral notebooks, a stack of them about a foot high, covered from edge to edge with my frenzied handwriting. Nearly every day after school, I would grab my pencil and paper, sprawl out on my parent’s bed, and write until my hand got tired. I remember those characters very well, even now. They were friends. I spent hours creating them, unmasking them, imagining their universes.

My relationship with writing changed when I entered tenth grade. I was taking difficult classes; school began to consume most of my time. Now, I wrote for academic purposes. I had a social life, a boyfriend, and there wasn’t as much time to devote to fiction, to journaling, to poetry. Sure, I was still a writer. According to a couple of my teachers, a decent one. I carried around my pens and my small notebooks, I observed. I read a lot. But I no longer rushed home to write. I rushed home to do homework, to talk on the phone, to plan time with my friends and boyfriend.

I never finished my book. I started others, finished a few short stories, wrote a lot of essays. I went to college, wrote even more essays, forgot about my fiction, but filled journals.

I am still a writer. I cannot comprehend the world around me apart from this. I lose sight of myself when I do not write. My relationship with this craft has changed, evolved, in good and bad ways. I am guilty of comparing myself, of sitting frozen with a pen in my hand, unable to get even a word out because of the fear, the fear, the fear. It is a feeling that I never experienced in those early years.

Perhaps it is like this with all of us. This is a fraught relationship. How can it not be? We straddle the line between solitude and involvement with the worlds we occupy. I love people, but writing is a lonely thing. Because in the end, it is you and your pen, you and your screen, and all of a sudden you are face to face with yourself. No one can do this for you. Sometimes writing is a friend, and sometimes she feels like a cruel adversary, ripping down our defenses, exposing our insecurities, our fear of being alone, the terrible inadequacy of our words. And there is the presumptuousness. Why do I feel all of this anyway? It’s not like I’m even any good.

I have renounced the pen. I have picked it up again. I have fled because I cannot be anything but honest here, and I was desperate to hide from my own reflection. I have realized that my world made no sense without this, that I was lost because to not articulate, to not give in to my love of words, was to commit a crime against my conscience, against my own well-being. I am alive here. And regardless of if I am any good or not, regardless of if anyone ever reads these words, or even likes or understands them—I am alive here. And if the glory of God is man fully alive, then I must write.

This little blog, this tiny corner of a huge web, is my attempt to rekindle what I lost as I matured, grew up, grew in to this craft. Yes, I am probably a better writer now than I was at twelve. But I am more fearful. And even now, as I type this, I am thinking of all of the other writers, and how much better they are, and how futile this is, because who really cares what I have to say?

But I have learned that the best way to overcome an insecurity is to call it forth, look it in the eye, and prove it wrong by doing just the thing it has whispered is not possible.

So here I am, feeling vulnerable and exposed. But alive. Achingly, shockingly alive. Because there is nothing like fresh air on bare skin, and yes, yes Lord, I welcome the sting.


  1. Erika this is awesome!! I am intrigued to hear more!!!!

  2. I have always wondered why you didn't have a blog, beautiful friend! I am so excited about this. This is beautiful. You are so beautiful. I love you! Love this! :)


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