This I Believe

Sarah - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on February 14, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

Putting Pen to Paper

I was sitting in my room, November 2005, carelessly sketching dresses on oddly proportioned mannequins. It was around that time in my life when I imagined that I would become a fashion designer. But deep inside my thirteen year old self I knew that it wasn’t something that I really wanted to pursue, I mostly just said so to frustrate my mother. It was that late Friday night that something incredible hit me on the head. I was drawing a dress that was supposed to be modern, though it resembled a medieval gown, when I started to wonder what type of a person would wear it. Then a picture came into my mind of three fashionable princesses and the idea of their lives made me want to pick up a pen and start writing. I didn’t know why it was happening but the urge consumed me more than anything else ever had. I knew it was not the most intriguing or unique beginning but it was a start at my first story.

Eventually more stories began to pop up in my head. I threw out my pictures of unoriginal outfits and started filling my notebooks with back-story, character sketches, and names. I read books by famous writers on writing, hoping to pick up tips. I began to wonder story plots appealed to me and which ones didn’t. I even began to listen more in English class. I did everything that I thought would help me effectively share my stories with others, everything that I thought would help me become a good writer, but I was avoiding something crucial- the writing itself. I just couldn’t face it. The truth was I was afraid. Back then, and still to some extent now, my spelling was atrocious, my grammar skills were poor, and I didn’t have a good vocabulary. I was completely frightened that my writing would be terrible and I would never be writer. Sadly, many of my stories vanished because I didn’t extend them. Finally I worked up the nerve, picked up a pencil and a notebook, and began to write. It was surprising, my writing was not very good but it wasn’t that bad either. Moreover, I realized that it was fun and there was no reason to have worried so much.

As time went by I began to find ways to get proper critique. I was not afraid of this because I had finally learned to face things rather than postpone them. I showed my work to my siblings and my friends hoping that more eyes would help fix my mistakes. Then I learned of an amazing program called Young Chicago Authors (YCA). It was created to help aspiring artists, like myself, develop their writing skills. Now I go there every Saturday, work with a variety of brilliant poets and writers, and read my work aloud for feedback. In the past year I feel that facing my writing, although such a simple task, has changed me in many ways. I have more confidence in everything, from public speaking to being myself. I am not afraid to be daring and try new things. I believe that no one should be afraid to go after their hearts desire even if it only putting pen to paper.