I first started writing when I was about 10. I had always been a book fanatic and growing feelings of low self-worth, loneliness, and the beginnings of the never-ending pangs of depression meant that I needed a hobby independent of other people. I would take pages of printer paper and write stories (dramatic fonts and hand-drawn covers included) that were originally 2-3 pages and never finished until I got my first computer, at which point, they got longer and more complex.
I was an insignificant kid. My family didn’t like me. My friends were only my friends in school and I had none at home. My school was understaffed, and so my teachers were less focused on encouraging bright students and more on getting through the day. I didn’t matter, and I tried to make myself matter, but the more I slipped through the cracks, the more I wrote. I journaled my day, I wrote poetry about indifference of dying and about nobody giving a shit. My Chemical Romance seemed like it was saving my life, the way it took words from me, and next thing I know, I had hundreds of depressing as shit poems published on some depressing as shit username but I could write at least 3-5 more each day.
Middle school broke me. I am the product of a broken school system. I learned quickly, and thanks to a particular after-school-and-summer program, I had already learned any and everything they could have considered teaching me. So I wrote in class. Teachers complained because I wasn’t paying attention, knowing damn well I always aced the tests they made easy for the others. I filled up six notebooks with novelas about death and honor and fighting and hot guys with fangs before Twilight was a thing. Though everyone knew that I was a prolific pre-teenage writer, no one expressed interest. No one cared. All they knew was that I had to stop what I was doing, follow the rules, tell my brain to shut up, and fit the formula. I was a body that needed to be in class, and that body was disrespectful when I got bored, but I wasn’t worth the effort of anything more.
I transferred by handwritten stories to PC, my stacks of notebooks destroyed by people who really couldn’t give two shits about what I thought or felt or did. I shared the start of a novel. I shared a poem. I shared short stories. I was yelled at for not taking another advanced placement class because I wanted free time to write.
I went to a program where other writers were encouraged to write, who had blossoming backgrounds and were published in larger anthologies, who won awards because someone actually looked at them. I felt wasted and insignificant. So I quit.
And it died off.
My content mattered less than how I wrote it. Or when I wrote it.
I stopped sharing.
Then I stopped writing.