Anyone Can Be a Writer

I keep waiting for the day that I want nothing but to sit in front of my computer for hours on end so I can build up my story of Madeline MacCarthy and Alexander Woods (see: Chapter One: Commute Home).

Me, 2020

If you’re a writer, you’d know the stereotypical display of writers in movies or shows. Most of the time, they portray writers as these people who always have a pen and notebook with them so they can constantly draw out plots and new depths. They’re constantly seen in sweatpants, with pens in their hair, and new ideas constantly flowing.

You can see the effects of caffeine in their eyes, and they usually have narrators voicing their thoughts (see: Carrie Bradshaw). They take interviews, they stay up all night in order to meet their quota or because they just can’t step away, and sometimes… this is actually the case (unless of course you’re Jake Gyllenhaal in Nocturnal Animals; right).

If you’re a writer that comes in the form of Chuck Palahniuk, you like to draw from research and actual real-life experiences. You use your imagination in a way that’s limitless and rule-breaking, and you always try to surprise yourself so your readers can be surprised too.

If you’re a writer like Stephen King, you like to use your imagination and the help of various drugs in order to get your point across. You’re an alpha dog in the writing community, with huge franchises, lots of books ranging from 300-1.2k pages, and you’re either loved or hated. Basically, books by writers like Stephen King are a hit-or-miss. He writes in several genres, but he prides himself in horror.

Coincidentally, they both have books on their writing, and I just clicked “Check Out” on Amazon for a copy of Consider This.

Finally, if you’re a writer like me, you decide to pursue not one, but two degrees in English Writing and Psychology – in other words, the ultimate backup. These degrees have both taken me so far already in terms of writing style, vs punctuation, vs how to discuss things in a delicate manner in terms of mental health. I’ve not only taken on one blog over the course of these degrees, I’ve taken on six. Two for me (KUWAS & Dani Darko Crafts), two for school (Freshman Collective & Chucklehead 101), and two for others (If the Review Fits & AllBee There for You).

These six blogs took over my life. I was scheduling posts for weeks in advance while also hitting my deadlines for school. They all had their own logos that I created and they were all run off of my scatter-brained way of life, with each having their own purpose.

Now, initially I didn’t plan on creating so many. I’m not even sure how I managed to get this far with this blog. I don’t even remember what pushed me into starting it, but I’m glad I did.

After looking through old papers, I’ve come to find out that I’ve actually been writing for most of my life. I still have stories I’ve written in elementary school, the pencil smudged on the wide-ruled paper, making their age even more noticeable. I even have three books I’ve created that are still intact ranging from 2006 to 2012. Some day, they’ll be considered Danielle originals, but until then, they reside on my roll-top collecting dust.

Even when I look back at old blogs I find myself shocked by the fact that the words on screen actually came out of my own head. Some have the potential to be incredible, while others just seem like never-ending rants.

Madeline and Alexander though? When I was writing about them, I fell in love. They were my babies that created this solidified image in my head of who they were and what they could accomplish. Maddy, a shy, introverted woman with a troubled past and a big orange cat named Swanson. And then, Alexander, a seemingly-charismatic man with an overwhelming interest in Maddy, which seems cliche, but the twists and the turns were what made it all better.

It sounds odd, but Maddy and Alexander were one of the reasons why I decided to pursue a second degree in Psychology. While I was writing the plot out with one of my best friends during our version of NaNoWriMo, it just seemed like it would go far deeper than what my “pre-psych degree” brain could handle.

Maddy is complex. Even more complex than what I can utilize off of my first-hand experiences, or even the experiences through the eyes of my family members. She’s creative, yet uninspired. Bold, yet camouflaged into the realms of normal society. Frankly, she’s a twist of my inner self, just a lot more chaotic.

Even now when I write about these two, it makes me want to see their story grow further than just the Notes section of my phone. It makes me want to take in all of the notes I got from my peers in my Fiction Workshop class, so I can build the best possible first draft I can. I’ve boasted about my work on my book several times on my twitter feed, drafts have even been sent out to my friends that are invested, yet they still have yet to come fully to life.

These two are just the groundwork for something so much bigger. I’ve been running this blog for quite a few years now, but I only have 50 posts that have actually stuck to this feed. I’ve been toying with the idea that maybe writing isn’t for me. It might come naturally, but when I write a blog, I don’t feel that same elation that I do when I finish a painting.

Art has been my friend since the day I could pick up a pencil. Every road trip, I’d have some sort of activity book that involved drawing, or I’d doodle on the edges of my notes for school. I took 5 years of art classes from eighth grade to senior year, and I got awards for quite a few things that are hung around my house.

Writing though? Well. Writing carries a different weight.

Not only did I constantly find myself carting around books during any kind of road trip of any distance (left: circa ’09 reading Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat). I’d find myself getting good grades on papers I didn’t really put my all into. Even after all of the years, this phenomenon didn’t really dawn on me until high school. Despite my previous papers and books, it wasn’t until 2012-2013 when my personal writing journey actually started.

During my junior year, I got my first bad grade on an essay because it “wasn’t plausible.” It was about a group of girls camping in the woods, who were eventually chased off by an escaped asylum patient. The story itself was interested, but it wasn’t written out in a believable way.

That paper, was given back to me by Ms. Cullar. I couldn’t believe what I saw when I got the paper back, but I made sure to get the feedback I needed. For some reason, I actually cared about this class. After years of putting in minimal effort when it came down to school, something about this class made me want to be better.

After I got the feedback, I decided to rewrite it and hand it back to her (with her permission). It came back with flying colors, but I didn’t stop there.

In Texas, before the hassle of STAAR tests, you had to take a TAKS test all the way up into junior year. They were the turning point of everyone’s educational paths, and honestly, the fact that school is focused around standardized testing is foolish, but we’ll get to that another time (maybe). However, after years and years of TAKS and taking classes that I shouldn’t have been in, I decided I was going to go out strong. So, I stayed after school with Ms. Cullar until the TAKS came, and when that test came, I managed to get the highest score possible on the writing section. There were only a few in my class that did, but I managed to be one of them.

Then, after junior year, I met my match with one of my favorite teachers at CCHS at the time – Coach Jackson. His breathe was horrid and he had seemingly unrealistic deadlines, but he looked like Robin Williams and created that “Oh Captain, My Captain” vibe in his classroom (or at least for me anyway).

Now, I didn’t take AP, but this class made me want to rip my hair out by the handful. It was stressful and chaotic, but during a six-week period, we were given the choice of what we would write our last essays about. It could be about anything that was non-fiction, as long as it met the school guidelines, and Jackson’s criteria for 10 credible sources. Naturally, I wrote mine about body modifications.

The minimum was around 12 pages long, but mine went up to 26, and I got a 90 on it because I forgot that MLA included a Table of Contents. It contained almost all of the information you’d need to know if you wanted to modify your body from the history of stretching your lobes to the silicon implants some people put under their skin. Some day that paper will be scanned and published on one of my blogs, but let’s just say that that’s yet another project that’s on my roll-top.

Then, in 2017, after I knew I was going to finish with an associates in general studies, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. General studies was the base for so much more. I could literally do anything I wanted, so after even more digging, I realized – the book I want to read, doesn’t even exist yet.

I kept reading all of these fairytales and predictable twists, so I took it upon myself to pursue this urge to write by applying for a degree in English Writing at the University of Colorado – Denver and I didn’t tell anyone. Everyone was in the dark as to what Danielle was going to do next, and I felt it should remain that way until I knew for sure.

Then, the day that letter came in the mail was the day that I felt like my adult life actually had more potential. For as long as I can remember, I’ve never had a set plan for what I want to do education-wise. I was always asked why I was taking the easy way out in high school, or told that I’d never make money doing what I wanted to do. So, this step was important. It was a turning point, and yet, it created even more questions of what my career choice is.

Now, I’ve actually finished the English Writing portion of my degrees. I’ve learned how to create resumes and how to offer up constructive criticism. My semi-established hobby was further backed by three years of being told what to write and succeeding. I might not know what I want to do professionally, but right now, I know that I just want to write the book that I want to read and I want to create more art. I honestly couldn’t care less if I end up working retail or not working at all, the loans will be figured out eventually, and my husband has been an incredible support system.

When it comes down to it though, every writer has their own personal story, and this one is mine. It’s probably not all of it, but it’s for sure a start at something. I just need more time to figure out how to lay all of my hobbies out on the table and get more organized. The only issue though, is that my brain doesn’t stick to a schedule unless someone is telling me to get something done by a certain time. Even then, I find myself staying up to meet deadlines similarly to how the writers in movies are portrayed. Although, while coffee might be among my list of best friends, I certainly don’t spend all day and night at my computer.

AS FOR YOU, dear reader, your journey is just as valid as mine. Whether it’s built on writing your entire life, or you just decided to open a word document and just take a jab at it. Some may have backgrounds backed with education and a portfolio of various essays, while others decide to drop random, yet brilliant posts every now and then.

Either way, if you like writing, don’t compare yourself to other writers. Take inspiration from them and use what you will. Research the Oxford comma and nail it. Figure out the best way to get your word out, or just keep it to yourself. Writing everyday isn’t the only trait that classifies someone as a writer, and as someone who only writes when they get the urge, I’ve often struggled with this.

When it comes down to it, a writer is so much more than the amount of time spent at a computer. It’s the planning, the noticeable growth between the pages, the never-ending ideas for new stories. It’s the ability to create a new outlet for your thoughts and ideas, and the strength to actually click “publish.”

After all, writing isn’t just a form of expression, it’s an art, and anyone can be an artist if they put their heart into it.

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