I remember right where I was sitting the first time I wrote a poem: on the floor of my messy bedroom surrounded by dolls I hadn't played with within months. I couldn't understand why I simply didn't want to play with them anymore. I was getting older, and it scared me. I put my fears on paper, not even really intending to write a poem. I just let the words flow out of my pen, about how I couldn't even remember what my doll's voices sounded like anymore.
I tentatively showed the poem to my teacher the next day at school, and I was surprised when she loved it. I hadn't really thought it was anything amazing. My teacher's encouragement gave me the support I needed to keep writing. I began to read books of poetry, and I wrote every single day. I learned that in order to improve, I had to write whether I felt inspired or not. By the end of eighth grade, I had written 200 poems. They weren't all great. In fact, a lot of them were really bad. A few stood out, though, and my teacher helped me enter one in a local contest. When it won, I knew I just had to keep writing.
I kept at it all through high school, receiving plenty of rejections. Some of those rejections were devastating, and there were times I felt like quitting. By now, though, I thought of myself as a writer. What would I be if I stopped writing? So, I dug in and wrote. I wrote about teenage things, about heartbreak and existential crisis. I wrote about my world, about my school and the beauty of our natural surroundings. Often, I just wrote about my perspective and tried to convey that in a way that moved other people.
Now, as graduation approaches, I have been published 24 times. I'm certain I want to pursue a degree in creative writing. There's so much to learn about words and the beautiful ways we can use them, and I want to learn all of it. I hope to get a BA in creative writing, and after that, I want an MFA. Some day, I'd like to support others who write too, just as my encouraging teachers helped me.
My journey as a writer has taught me a lot of things about myself, but the most important thing I've learned is that I don't give up. It takes more than natural talent to become good at something; you simply have to do it. The old adage is true: writers write. I write when I know I'm making something I love, but I also write when I'm discouraged and think I have little to say. I write to be read, but I also write knowing sometimes, no one will read my work. My persistence is the secret of my success so far, and I know it will serve me well in college and beyond.