Chicken Soup for the Writer' s Soul

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Why I Write
I never wanted to be a writer. As a kid, all I ever dreamed of was living in a house with
central air and heat and a toilet that flushed. My mother told me I was going to college: no ifs,
ands and buts about it, and that I need not be concerned with “having anybody’s babies until
after I had a degree in my hand.” As a result, I was too scared to have sex during high school (all
my friends were), so I took to reading. Got my first job shelving books at our local library and
spent much of $1.25 per hour hiding in the 700 and 900 sections on the floor.
This is where my dreams began to turn outward. I started traveling all over the world. I flew
with Amelia Earhart. Sat with the Brontës. Rode on a sleigh in the snow with Robert Frost.
Touched and smelled green with Thoreau. John Steinbeck fooled me with that story that had no
mice in it. I thought he could’ve been black. James Baldwin frightened me when I saw his dark
face on his book jacket. When did black people start writing books, I wondered? And then there
was Bartlett’s Quotations, which blew my young mind because it was like this dictionary of
thoughts on all kinds of topics that I used to lie awake at night and ponder over but never had
anybody to talk to about. I didn’t know then that I was already lonely. Because I couldn’t share
my feelings, or maybe because I knew no one really cared what I felt or thought.
But then I go to college and my reading became a little broader, and one day this guy whose
name I still can’t remember breaks a major portion of my heart, and I find myself sitting on my
twin-sized bed in this tiny college apartment, and I’m in a coma for like four hours because I am
unable to move (though I don’t try), and finally when I feel the blood flowing through my body
again, it hits my brain and explodes, and I jump up without knowing where I’m going or what
I’m about to do, and I grab a pen and a steno pad and begin to write these words down one, two,
three, ten at a time, and I’m not even thinking about what I’m doing because it is happening so
fast, and I don’t realize until I’m out of breath, and four whole pages are filled with these words,
and I sigh a deep sigh of relief and exhaustion, but I suddenly feel better, but then I panic
because when I look at these words it sounds and looks like a poem, but I know damn well I
didn’t write this stuff because I have never written anything before in my life.
And that’s how it started.
This writing stuff has saved me. It has ...
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