I would like to call myself a writer. I suppose any college-bound senior in high school could brandish that title - we all take the pen to the paper as we accomplish the daily tasks of essays on Hamlet and lab reports and short-answer questions about the political structure of the United States. A writer is not, however, simply someone who considers himself the author of the five page paper he handed in to his first period English teacher. A writer is someone who takes the details of a thousand lives and pushes them all into one character. A writer is someone who uses not only his own experiences but the experiences of every single person he encounters. A writer is someone who is constantly taking mental notes, rehearsing the semantics of his sentences, constantly assembling faces to personalities to identities. A writer does not write because someone on the outside instructs him to do so; a writer writes because a hundred voices on the inside are begging to be let out.
One of my favorite quotes comes from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Last Tycoon: "Writers aren't people, exactly... they're a whole lot people trying so hard to be one person."
That's what I'm trying to do. I am trying to be one person, the best person I can be. It's impossible for me to nail down a moment in which my character has been developed. Naturally, I'm not expecting that the entire person I have become is the direct result of one incident but I feel that my character has been shaped more importantly by my collective existence rather than moments that stand alone in my past. I am not defined by one moment, but every moment - hundreds of soccer games over the course of thirteen years, the detention I received in seventh grade for laughing when I was supposed to be reading, the thousands of books I have read, every dinner I have shared with my family, every time I have stood out in the rain, every smile I have shared with someone who meant something to me.
I am a thousand characters trying valiantly to become one individual. I am a student, a sister, a daughter. I am a Christian, a volunteer, a scholar, an avid reader. I am a senior in high school, a singer, a poet. I am a seventeen-year old girl trying very hard to become the person I am supposed to be, learning how to discard what is unnecessary and hold close that which enables me to succeed. I am who I am today because I have done my very best to listen carefully, to respect, obey, to learn. I have often fallen short, but I keep trying.
Every book I read, every person I talk to, every teacher I learn from contributes to the development of my character. I read to understand the things I have not experienced, to hear something I have thought about expressed in words other than my own. I try to look at every aspect of everyone's life and identify the things I value most. I try to be open-minded and receptive to other people's views. I often fail at this, as it is natural for humans to do. My character has been developed by these intentions, successes, and failures. I try to live a life that is reflective of everything I hold to be important - family, friends, my relationship to God, my dedication to learning, and my role as a human being in relationship to myself and all those around me.
I consider myself a writer. As a writer, by piecing together a few engaging sentences, I could easily romanticize an experience in my life and make it seem as though it carries more weight than anything else. The truth is, I don't think there is any one thing in my life whose role is more important than any other factor. I am trying to live so that every moment of my existence contributes to my character, so that I am a distillation of everything I love about myself, the people in my life, and the thousands of characters I carry with me - both the characters that I have buried inside of my brain waiting to spring out of the ink onto the paper and the characters I have collected along the way as an avid reader, student, and observer of life.
I am a child. I am an aspiring physician, a music lover, a runner, someone's best friend. I am an athlete, a musician, a computer geek. I am Holden Caulfield. I am J. Alfred Prufrock. I am Harry Potter, Jane Eyre, Anne Frank. Scarlett O'Hara, Pippi Longstocking, Romeo Montague. I am absolutely everything, absolutely nothing, every thought, every facial expression, every gesture of the hand. I am a phone ringing in an empty room, a cello playing as the casket's lid is closed. I am a crowded hallway, the touchdown that wins the game. I am a candle burning, a 5k race, the sound of laughter, a rush of wind. I am a voice, a name, a face. I am the punctuation mark at the end of the sentence.
I am a writer.