Edward Bulwer-Lytton once said that the pen is mightier than the sword. As both a fencer and a writer, I sometimes find myself debating the truth in this, but in the end, I always end up concurring with the sentiment. There is something about writing that is supremely fulfilling, something that burns steam and brings calm. That’s not to deny the rush that comes from stabbing wire mesh masked people with swords and getting points for it; who could ask for a better stress-reliever? Even that, however, can’t beat sitting down with a cup of tea and mulling over the latest plot. There is, truthfully, no feeling that can compare.
In my circle of friends, each of us has our own passion, our own “defining” art. One pair of hands guides her paintbrush in colorful strokes, another set of fingers dexterously maneuvers its way across her baby grand. Another turns plain sheets of fabric into elaborate, masterfully designed garments. I write stories. My closest friends and I have always been slaves to our muses, inspired by every fleeting whim and fancy to create what we hoped would be our respective masterpieces. We continue to find great enjoyment in art in all its forms: art, regardless of the medium, is an expression of the soul and of the self, and it is essential that we embrace this passion, gripping it tight, as we would a fencer’s foil, and never let it go, for without this ability to create, life loses just a little of its luster.
For me, all mediums of art hold a tremendous appeal, but I feel most alive, and best defined, when words come glittering like the flash of my foil. There’s a thrill I get in writing that I cannot get in any other way, the thrill of using words to create people, places, and lives. My passion for writing no doubt stems from my insatiable love of reading: even as a child, I found the words of authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien and Philip Pullman as satisfying as the company of my peers.
Last summer, I attended the University of Iowa’s Young Writers’ Studio, a writing program for high school students. It was there, surrounded by people with the same passion as I, that I truly began to realize what my writing meant to me. It is so much more than just a hobby, more than just a talent, more, even, than my passion. It is part of who I am. It is part of how I define myself, and defend myself. It is a constant factor, one of the few constant factors, in my ever changing life as a teenager. When I fight with a friend, I turn to my writing, to my loyal characters, characters that, though fictional, never let me down. When school gets to be too stressful, I write it off. Writing is an outlet for me, a vessel into which I pour anger and sorrow and joy, a place to channel all my creative energy and to escape from mundane reality, or even to help appreciate that reality better.
It’s said that you only live once, and this seems likely to be true, barring reincarnation and other such life-after-death phenomena. However, there’s a loophole there for writers. We may have only one life, but we live, too, in each of our characters, each of our stories. We get to live vicariously, through the people we create, lives that other people can only dream about. There is a strong satisfaction in creating these people, and these stories, that makes all the writer’s blocks, all the uncooperative plots, all the researching bizarre topics or searching for the perfect word, worth it.
I believe in the power of words and the importance of creativity, for without this, we are tethered to reality; with this, there are no boundaries. This, I believe.
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