I’ve always wanted to write. I remember being in the 4th grade and winning a prize for writing. I needed to write a story, a page or two long on any topic as an assignment for class. I ended up with 10 pages and in the principal’s office. After being terrified, I remember she told me that I had a gift and gave me an award. In the 7th grade, we had to write poetry for a teacher of ours that was dying, to make a book for her to read while she was sick. The next year, I was one of the selected ones to read my poem at a dedication for the computer room being named in her honor. Since then, I do often get praises for my writing, but things are different now.

It’s easy to write freely and not worry when it is an assignment that needed to get done. Getting praised for doing something you’re supposed to do, but when you don’t have an aim, a teacher to turn your work into it becomes a want and not a need. What is the purpose of the writing? Who will ever read it? Could I make it something I could live off and follow a dream? Not likely, the odds are you’ll starve as any sort of artist instead of being successful.

That’s what makes writing scary now. I don’t have a purpose for sitting around typing out words that few people will even bother to read. Now you’re being judged on a larger scale than a teacher, or a reading you had to do as part of your writing assignment. You’re not just being judged on the story, you’re being judged as someone who decided to make an art as your dream goal instead of following a more accessible and profitable one.

I’ve been compiling short stories and poems for an anthology I don’t know if I’ll ever finish, not for a lack of trying but for a fear of rejection. It was easier back then; I was a stupid kid that did whatever I wanted. Now everything’s changed. It’s always a terrifying thing when you have to decide if you want to follow your dreams, because dreams end effortlessly and can ruin you. Well, maybe the idea would just ruin me.

It was to my surprise that I opened up my email to a website that offers a challenge to aspiring writers. Write a 50,000 page novel in a month’s time? I sat on the email for a week, maybe a month, deciding whether I should chance this. There’s no prize, there’s no one that will even read it. It gives a goal and your match the deadline. It’s almost like an assignment for school; would it really be so bad? When I had this fleeting sense of hope and strength, I signed up. The worst thing that could happen is I fail the goal, but at least I tried. I think I’d rather try than wonder why I didn’t. In fact, if I do succeed, I’m going to do the script challenge too.

(For anyone who cares or interested, the site is http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/dashboard.)

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