For as long as I remember, I've had a story crawling out of me. Whether fantasy or reality. I'm a storyteller for better or worse. And I know I’m not the only one.
Creative expression sits heavy in our bones. What happens if we don't release it? How many of us drink or binge-watch shows to escape whatever it is we are scared of?
Sometimes, it's needed. Sometimes, it's hard to motivate myself to do creative things.
But I always return to writing. It calls to me, even when I don't want it to. Without writing, I don't think I would've survived my adolescence or childhood.
My mother didn't play her role as a mother very well. In many ways, I mothered myself. In other ways, writing became my mother. It fed my heart, it stroked my skin, it tended my wounds.
Writing and its counterpart, reading was my embrace. It held and comforted me.
Before I moved to Los Angeles, I had no friends and only one book, Anne of Green Gables. I read this book over and over while waiting to cross the border into the US. First in Polish, then in English. Anne helped me travel into another world, while I was stuck in my very precarious one.
After moving here, the library quickly became my second home. I would come back with stacks of books - Goosebumps, Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew.
I loved reading them, but I never saw myself. They didn't strike a deep chord within me. Maybe if they had, I would've decided to pursue writing as a craft earlier in life.
Reading Borderlands by Gloria Anzaldúa much, much later changed that. Reading Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, then learning how she worked at a potato chip factory and got up at 4 am to write, changed me.
I am in the midst of publishing my first full-length collection of poetry. It took me a year, it took a community of writers to encourage me, and it took me believing in myself.
I don't want my book to be perfect, or prestigious, or praised. I want it to open up our vulnerabilities and emotions. I want it to be someone's embrace and comfort. I want it to encourage someone to pick up a pen, or a pencil, or a paintbrush. Doesn’t matter if you went to school or graduated. Doesn’t matter if you ever wrote a word or put paint on a canvas.
We are creative creatures. We need to honor that. We don't have to share or be the best at it. We don’t have to win prizes, or contests, or be published. We can write in our native languages or our second languages. We can sing spontaneously or dance in the middle of an intersection.
So, pick up that dream of yours, not tomorrow or next week, but today. Let go of your fear and do what scares you. Take a risk and see what happens. Don't forget you're a creative, not just a cog in the profit-making machine. Honor yourself and fly across unchartered skies.