My muscles twitch as I lie in bed, limbs tossed about and half-covered with the thick blanket while my ears take in the music blasting through the headphones. Christian rap artist “NF” rapidly narrates his life growing up with a mother who left him before she even left this world. A sensation flickers in the pit of my soul, gnawing at the edges of my gut before rolling in a tsunami up and down my body. This sensation imitates the “THUMP-BUM-THUMP” of the rhythm. I turn onto my other side and throw the blanket off my legs, inviting the cool air to envelop my skin. What is this overwhelming feeling? I pick up my phone, flicking through songs on YouTube until I find a calmer song: an acapella remix of “How Great Thou Art.” My body finally relaxes, settling into the warm harmony of soft voices packed with power and singing about God. I begin falling into the cocoon of sleep, dreams starting to take shape. They are shattered, however, by the sensation gnawing at my edges again before overtaking me. My mind races, thinking on everything that has happened recently: diminishing faith; deteriorating friendships; nagging insecurities; frustrating fears; paralyzing anxieties. All the pent-up feelings build up in my mind, colliding with the waves of the sensation until I am forced to throw off the blanket altogether, get up, turn on my laptop, and bring up a blank Microsoft Word page.
Tonight will not be the last night I cannot fall asleep due to the monster inside of me wanting to release all of the thoughts and feelings I regularly keep bottled up. This monster roars and claws at my insides, demanding me to let go of everything. I am as stubborn as he is, though, and I just sit on my bedroom floor, absolutely at a loss for words. Frustration doesn’t accurately describe the feeling I get when I try to put into words what is on my heart and mind but end up having the thoughts and feelings lost in translation. I feel helpless.
I haven’t always felt helpless, though. Writing has always been something that came naturally to me. Even in fourth grade, when fellow students complained about writing a daily one-page paper, I was already deep in thought about all the possibilities: the Labrador Retriever puppy I wanted to have, Prince Charming coming to save me from a dragon, and the author I wanted to be when I grew up. The endurance in my right wrist built up over the course of nine months, achieved by the thoughts I wrote down rapidly before I lost them in the folds of my brain entirely. Something that year awoke a part of my heart that was previously dormant, and that part would never go back to sleep. Throughout the following years, I found many exciting opportunities to write: anthropologies in fifth grade, UIL Writing events beginning in junior high, and two-page papers in which I could write about anything (called “freewrites”) during sophomore year. Every time a blank page sat in front of me—staring as though to dare me to write something magnificent—confidence caused my hand to routinely slide across the paper, creating letters that created words, which in turn created a meaning. At first, writing for me was daydreaming and basing stories off of those daydreams when I wasn’t satisfied with reality. However, as I matured, so did my writing. The required “freewrites” in Honors English II provided the transition from the childish fantasies to the mature perspectives on life, aided by UIL Reading Writing. I was required to write a 1000-word essay on one of the two topics given, and these topics weren’t “Tell of a time you had to forgive someone” or “If you could be the president, what would you do?” Quotes from noted writers, scientists, and public figures were supplied, and I had to give my opinion on a topic related to that quote. These rules—along with the “freewrites” in which I confessed all that was going on in my heart and how I realized that these feelings were a part of the overall scheme of life—forced me to block out the daydreams and write about reality. I began to view the world in a new perspective. What had previously been black and white now had brilliant colors. I wrote about new ideologies and how they affected the human race as a whole. Some of the few people who read my work commented on how I was mature for my age and how my thought processes were deep. I had an ability to make adults years older than I stop and think about life. In my eyes, this only meant one thing: I had a way to impact the world, and all the time doing something that I loved.
Of course, with all hobbies and talents, frustration must be present. Within every written work is a blank page that remained blank for a certain length of time because of the writer’s block that every writer experiences. The positive factor about writer’s block, though, is that the ideas and words aren’t blocked forever. A blank page has the most potential, and what a writer must do is take that potential and latch onto it, manipulating it to brainstorm ideas, theories, and theses.
I latch onto the blank page’s potential as I quietly sit on my bedroom floor. Multiple thoughts race around my mind, but none find an exit—except for one. Speeding down my spinal cord, down the nerves in my arm, and down the nerves in my hand, the thought finally flows into the tips of my fingers, encouraging them to fly across the keyboard.
“Writing is life; life is writing. Sometimes we can only learn about who we are and the things we experience by writing everything down on paper. We write in diaries, journals, blogs, and books, and not because that’s what we necessarily love to do. We write because writing gets the words out of our systems when speaking proves difficult. Writing is the outlet when the emotions stay bottled up inside and have nowhere to go.”
A small grin etches into my face. The monster roars yet again, bellowing more words onto the blank screen. After an hour of constant clicking sounds, satisfaction sweeps over me. I close the laptop, climb back into bed, and let the dull numbness of sleep cover me like a thick blanket.