My friends and I started writing our stories down when it began apparent to us that it was no longer acceptable to act them out on the playground. We passed notebooks in the breaks between classes and devoured each others’ fictional worlds. Notes were scribbled and cramped into margins. Those notebooks were passed around so much that the covers usually fell off well before we finished with the pages.
I remember my first attempts at a “novel” very clearly in my sixth and seventh grade memories, but I’m sure my writing started before that. I remember the pure escapism of the plot, and the thrill I felt of writing a new world for me and my friends.
Even after all of these years, writing is still my escape. Although, I definitely don’t put as much of my physical self into the main characters as I used to. Instead, I give them my emotions or my questions.
Ask any writer and I’m sure they’d tell you that each piece they write teaches them something – not just about the way they write, but about themselves as well. Writing is a deeply personal activity. It forces you to go into your own head, which can often be a shocking place. The best writing (in my opinion) forces the writer to confront the deepest emotions.
But, how can diving into emotions be an escape?
Writing is my “thing.” I’m not sure if I’m good at it (no matter what anybody says weighing one way or the other). And honestly, I don’t really care? Writing, especially writing fiction, is how I stay mindful. Even if I were to never share my writing, I would still do it. I have kept so much of my fiction to myself, for myself.
There are more notebooks hidden away, and more files on my computer that have gone unedited. I have so many pieces that have been written in various formats, finished and unfinished, that nobody has ever seen (and probably never will). But, each served a purpose for me.
In a strange way, fiction writing is like journaling for me. I have a touchy history with journaling and so it just doesn’t work out. For me, posing a question I have to a fictional setting for a fictional character who doesn’t react like me and who doesn’t have the same situation as me, allows me to look at it with a broader perspective. Writing forces me to work things out for my characters and ultimately for me.
Reading and writing somebody else’s life, makes me more mindful of my own.