by Jack Martin, guest blogger
Sweat begins to bead on my forehead as I clamber up the ten-foot ladder. My feet feel the sting of the sun-heated metal even as I tremble with nervous anticipation at the quickly approaching plunge. Some of those behind me yell, urging me to climb up faster so they can take their turn. Others remain silent out of solidarity, knowing all too well the fear I am experiencing. I ascend to the top of the high dive; nothing seems to sit in view but the horizon in front of me and the pool below. I take a breath, and I leap! EEEEEEEE! (I scream like an eight-year-old girl, but let’s not focus on that.)
I am a summer intern with Adam Colwell’s WriteWorks and will soon depart the Southwestern desert for the plains of Norman, Oklahoma where I am on scholarship at the University of Oklahoma. I plan to study writing—a similar leap to the one just described from my childhood, but one with a very different set of stakes and pressures. I’ve lived in Tucson as long back as I can remember, so moving to another state where I don’t know a soul is daunting and at the same time terrifying.
Yet just like the thrill of jumping off the high dive, there is something that spurs me on to pursue a journey that feels more like a free fall than an easy jog. After all, I had the chance to choose easier paths than going to Oklahoma; I could’ve stayed in Tucson and attended college close to home. But this isn’t a “poor me” tale; rather, this is a story about a love that makes a risky journey seem worthwhile—my love of writing.
My first memory of writing goes as far back as kindergarten, where I learned to write with a series of pictures we used as prompts. I went to a “gifted” school and was rarely if ever the best student at anything, but the exception was storytelling. Looking back, much of my writing seems more goofy than anything else, but I did well. Really, it was only when I was writing that I felt gifted in my “gifted” school.
After a couple of years, my parents moved me to a private school with kids of wildly varying intellects and interests. That’s where I stayed and from where I graduated in May. When I first arrived there, I was one of those shy kids that no one knows, but I didn’t leave that way. I owe that to writing. Even in the awkward Dark Ages of middle school, writing was my chance to be authentic when I otherwise felt I had to put on a front to be accepted. Writing nurtured my ability to now feel I can take on all sorts of challenges in the name of authenticity.
I owe special thanks to a teacher who, over the past two years, reinforced my love of writing. We spent time discussing with me a quote from The Scarlet Letter that has become my motto for life and especially for my writing: “Be true! Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred.”
As I leap into the future with this in mind, the waters below seem a little less treacherous. I’m excited to develop in my writing skills with Adam so that I might first see truth, then know truth, and then make that truth known. I know of no higher calling, and that, above all else, is why I want to be a writer.
I want to hear from you!
What memory or experience inspired you to become a writer or to share your story?