I consider myself a philosopher of sorts. But that may be because of the kinds of books I read as a child. 1984, The Giver, Brave New World, Animal Farm... The classics were always my favorites. They always seemed so profound, always speaking to the reader in more ways than one. They always had a message, whether it was a warning about possible dark futures of society, an allegory of past events, or a commentary on important issues. They were able to share a vision of a brighter future.
I grew up in a conservative part of the southern US. My family was your average southern US family: husband and wife, kids, pets, a farm, the whole nine yards. Of course, I always knew I was different from my more conservative immediate family. In fact, as I grew older, I found myself sympathizing more and more with my more liberal grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins (on my father's side, anyway). For the longest time, the smallest of statements could spark a fiery debate ending with harsh words, cracked voices, and tears. I had no outlet to release my pent up anger. It didn't help that it was at this point when the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder had first begun to manifest themselves, making the episodes of raging mania even worse. I felt alone in the universe without someone who could truly understand what I was going through.
Fast forward to my junior year of high school. While my short story Chapparelle's World in seventh grade was what had catapulted me into the world of writing and made me realize how much I enjoyed it, looking back, I never realized how much of an outlet the creative arts could be. I didn't think about how I could use writing to communicate; I always thought that it was just a source of entertainment. But the summer before my junior year, I was asked to read The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy for a summer assignment for my AP English Language and Composition course. At first, I thought I'd hate it. I don't like being told what to read or what to write; to me, the arts should be a source of freedom. But the more I read it, the more I grew fond of it. The assignment asked me to find the thesis of the story, to ask "What's the point?" I remember raising my eyebrow at this. "But it's a fictional novel; theses are for nonfiction pieces and essays." But I shrugged, not wanting to risk my grade, and read the novel, looking for "the point." I have fond memories of this book (the accompanying assignment, not so much haha), and I learned a lot from that class (even though my complaints throughout the year may have said otherwise). I learned that writing was so much more than words on a page; it's about telling a story, conveying a message. And even if you can't see it, the point is still there, whether you're reading Edgar Allen Poe or John Green.
Sometimes even a writer can't tell what the point is until after completing the story and looking back on it. Our experiences shape who we are as writers. For example, Gears of Golgotha was about so much more than a steampunk dystopian world; it was about an inner journey to finally accept myself for who I really am, and I couldn't tell until after I finished it and read it again. The more I write, the more I realize that my stories always have a reason for being, and there is a reason for everything that happens.
I guess that's why I consider myself a philosopher: because I always have something to say. I not only want to tell an entertaining story, but I want to convey how I feel. Although part of me finds it hilarious that I'm completely comfortable talking to complete strangers about what I'm terrified of talking to my own parents about for fear of starting an argument. It's just as well. Maybe that's what writing's about: being able to be fearless. The sky's the limit. The only boundary that's there is your own fear. Take chances. Dream big. Be not afraid.
Love and Coffee cups,