It’s always a great idea to begin here. At the beginning. I started my life in Texas. My mother put me up for adoption to a family in Brooklyn, where I lived for the first 6 or 7 years of my life. I’ve always had support from every angle, (even if sometimes that support was misguided). I was a weird kid, with a weird life, doing weird things. But I loved creating worlds, and writing stories.
I remember the first real story I wrote. It was during a summer camp program at my local community college where, at the end of the course, they would print your book and give you a few copies. The book was titled Nutrient XYZ, and it told of a world where food was outdated, and I think the atmosphere was poisoned or something. That period of my life was a blur.
People survived off of feeding tubes called Nutrient Y, that let them survive in the poison world. But alas! A hero approaches! One man has been experimented on with a NEW nutrient! Nutrient X! It gives him super powers, naturally. But it begins to slowly kill him. He’s kidnapped by the villain, and experimented on again to save his life, but it also gave him evil powers. (That’s where the Nutrient Z comes from, if you haven’t guessed).
There are some other details that I remember, like a character named Dace, who eats fish for fun, and a large man who guarded the afterlife, who was, essentially, just the Ox-King from Dragon Ball Z.
The story was, after all, an amalgamation of all the loves and hobbies of a middle school aged kid. I liked Yu-Gi-Oh (where the Nutrient Z card gave the initial inspiration), Dragon Ball, the Jak series, Sonic (there were seven stones that they needed to collect)…
It was unoriginal, plagiarized in places, and frankly, kinda crap. But it was an experience. An experience that I never forgot, too. The feeling of holding a physical book in your hands, that you wrote, is immense and powerful. No matter how bad or unoriginal it is. Though preferably, that would be avoided at all costs.
Writing The Middle
As of this blog, I am 38k words into Ray of Sunshine. I’m on the precipice of winning a NaNoWriMo for the first time ever. The first time I attempted, I was worn, and tired, and dealing with a lot in life. Although, that’s honestly all excuses as to why I wrote two chapters and gave up. After all, doing what we love should be how we get out of our ruts. We don’t get there by shunting those things away.
If a middle school kid, with limited life experience, can take the things they love and know, and make a story, surely it’s only understandable that the works we do later in life are that same amalgamation. All of our wants, dreams, and desires.
I’m now 28 years old, have a degree, a good job that pays way too well for how good I feel at it sometimes. I’m a trans woman who’s completed transition, and is very happy with that. I’ve been engaged twice, am battling a drug addiction, and live alone right now with my two cats. That only touches the surface of the experiences I draw on.
What experiences define you? What metaphors would you manifest out of your life to put on the page? If you wrote your memoir, what would it talk about? I think, even for those of us who feel our lives are boring and meaningless, that if you really ponder those questions–sit down and really, REALLY think about it, you’d have a great story in there somewhere. They say “write what you know.” I think it’s better said as “write who you are.”
I guarantee that who you are resonates more with others than you could ever dream. I wrote a poem the other day in the bathtub. It goes like this:
Let Me Be Me
What does it mean,
And what does it say,
When the way we were born
Doesn’t turn out that way?
Will it tear us to shreds,
Or pull at our seams?
Or will it fuel up our wants
And our hopes and our dreams?
Will the magic that lie
In our hearts run anew,
If the tasks we are placed
Are too daunting to do?
I think that my life
Though short in it’s time
Hold true in the course
Of my prose and my rhyme
So given my chance
As hard it may be
I’m glad for the time
That I let me be me.
Did you catch that? That talked about my life as someone who is trans, and having accepted that and gone through transition. But I bet you thought about something in your own life that meets those words. Maybe it’s about accepting a flaw, or losing a sense, or growing up to do something you didn’t think you’d ever see yourself as doing.
Tell your story. Tell it proud. If you don’t want to tell your story outright, do it in fiction. Find a story within you that resonates your life, and it will resonate with more people than you could ever dream.
And it all starts with the beginning.