Friday, June 11, 2010

week nine: why i write

This is my first attempt at an autobiographical piece. You see autobiographies on shelves and they're usually these pretentious pieces about people in high places, you know, people who have actually accomplished something in life. I've never read a full autobiography nor have I felt the need to. For one, I never felt like I could relate to any of the people telling their stories. Second, I always felt like it was arrogant to publish a book about yourself. With that in mind, I've never written nor read any full autobiographies.

I've read a few pieces of autobiography and I find that I'm generally right on the first account; I can't relate to the author. On the second account, I'm also generally right. Just because you made it big doesn't mean there's anything for us to gain by reading about it. In fact, a lot the big-name autobiographies are pure publicity. That's a pretty prickish move, but I digress. Anyway, this isn't a publicity pull or a story of how I somehow conquered adversity. It's just a simple look at part of my life and, as the title suggests, why I write. Take it in just as you would one of the weekly short stories.

I grew up in Brazil. I lived there since I was five years old. I spent seven years in a city called Aracaju on the northeastern coast. Those seven years, at least from were I stand, can easily be described as hot, dull, and wasted. I don't say that lightly, but I was a homeschooled kid without any friends and nothing better to do than spend hours on the computer. It is, however, where I begin to foster my imagination. My parents and sister will, without hesitation, tell you how I used to play quite loudly with my action figures and talk to myself. To the outside observer, I imagine I looked something like a psychopath. An obnoxious one. I wasn't just playing though. I didn't really know it at the time, but I was writing my first stories. They never made it on paper, but I almost never played Star Wars with my Star Wars figures, no, they were the actors in tales of my own.

Eventually we moved to the more populous Sao Paulo, where I was forced into turning social. I was twelve when we moved and I went from socially isolated to fighting off the jackals that are middle-schoolers. It's safe to say that I wasn't liked. My imagination poured out in the worst of ways and people didn't exactly understand. I'd still talk to myself a little bit, I guess part of it being I had no one else to talk to. It doesn't matter though because that was when I started writing. All of it was crappy fanfiction, mostly Star Trek I think.

As high school came, I learned how to use my eccentricities to my advantage. I became known as a ballsy funnyman who knew how to act, write, and do video. My creative energies went purely to video work for a while. I was good at it too, I even made my way to being in an award-winning group. I've stopped with that for now, though, so I can focus on what I really love: writing. I didn't exactly realize it then. I had imaginings of being the next Steven Spielberg or Wes Anderson for a while. But writing was there the whole time. I was frequently asked to write things, for instance I wrote the script for the biggest completely student-run play and I edited the student paper. Not that either of those were particularly good, but it was there. It's like I didn't see it.

Then comes college. I still wanted to do film-related stuff, or maybe theater, and maybe I could write on the side. I was put in a school where there isn't an artistic film program and there is theater, but I wasn't totally sure. I considered communications for a while. All the while I was doing this, I had my first girlfriend. It was a fun relationship and I learned from the experience. Since I had a bit more free time, I started writing a lot more in my spare time. Finally, it was original stuff. My girlfriend never read any of it though or really cared about it, despite whatever enthusiasm I had. That hurt, but I was finally writing under adversity, which is essential.

I went into depression between my first and second semesters. Somehow, I think that helped me write a bit more. I was feeling more and for some reason I took a bit more pleasure from the expression. I could get all the anger or sadness onto paper. The depression was made a lot worse when my girlfriend chose to break up with me. My heart was broken and it hurt. I still think I'm recovering in some way. It was a life-changing experience, especially when she tried to explain it. She mentioned my writing as one reason it wouldn't work. I needed someone who could read and appreciate my work. I never considered that as essential, but it was.

When I entered therapy and started getting real help for the depression, I had to break myself down and re-examine just who I am. A lot of things had to be purged and I had to set my priorities straight. I was broken. I looked down at the pieces and I saw them reflecting my image. It wasn't pretty, but it was necessary. When I saw what mattered down there, I saw everything I had written and everything I planned on writing. When I put the pieces together again, the picture was so much clearer. I am a writer. It wasn't long before I started Story a Week and sent off a piece in hopes of publication. I declared an English major and all the cards are on the table.

I don't write because I like to write or because it's fun. I don't write because I have good ideas or because people think I'm good at it. Those things all make it easier. I write because I have to. I write for the same reason that I eat and breathe. I just have to and I don't question it. I've been doing it for a long time, but I never really noticed it, much the same way we breathe and don't question it. I'm writing to live. When I finally realized how essential writing is to my life, I came to the conclusion that if I'm going to live this written life, I had better do it the best I know how. You only get one life and if it sucked, that's that. I'm going to write the best stuff I know how. It doesn't matter if anyone reads it or not. I sincerely hope that they do, but readers aren't why I write. My writing is for me.


  1. And really, what good writing isn't for the author? Well stated.

  2. I like it, Mr. Ross.

    - Joseph Frieson