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When the Kid that People Told to Shut Up Grows Up to Be an Author

When the Kid that People Told to Shut Up Grows Up to Be an Author

“You’re a lot.” I heard it a lot.

Or, “You’re really intense.” Sometimes even, “You’re too much.”

But probably the biggest thing I heard growing up — and well into the adult stage, if we’re being honest — is “you talk too much.”

And when I wasn’t being criticized for the volume, I was told that the content wasn’t so great. I was too weird. No one cared what I had to say, folks said. Primarily my family of origin, if you want to know the truth.

In school settings, I had to learn to control my energy and not interrupt other people, little things like that. But when it came to making friends, that was easy. People liked me. I was funny.

When I started writing stories in third grade, my teacher said they were fantastic and encouraged me. Said she just knew I’d be an author someday, that I was wildly gifted as a storyteller.

But at home, it was different. I learned early on to hide my notebooks. My mom would find them anyway and destroy them. One time, she even pitched one into the fireplace. I got called “devil spawn” if I wrote with profanity or anything that was considered out there in my strict religious home (spoiler: a lot was considered “out there” in my strict religious home).

So I learned to write in code. Sometimes subbing words for each other. Sometimes literally writing in cipher systems using numbers instead of letters — those writings were often mistaken for math homework and evaded detection.

I figured out ways around it. But I learned one lesson that was impossible to avoid: I should be ashamed of myself and constantly worried that people would judge me for what I had to say.

I Grew Up to Be an Author, After All

That’s why it’s pretty funny that I grew up to be an author, after all. Just like my teacher predicted.

It wasn’t a straight shot at all. I did a lot of writing work as a young person, balancing that with whatever normal work I could get, and playing music in bands in order to support myself. But after a while, I decided I was wasting my time with writing and focused on getting a decent normal boring job, which was no easy feat in and of itself.

I didn’t have great connections. No money to speak of. And of course I had to pay for my own school (I still am paying for it to be honest and will be for a long time). And somehow survive in addition to that. (They don’t make it easy.)

But I gave up on my dreams and did something boring and sensible. Long story short, I kept bouncing between collapsing industries that were supposed to be safe and steady in theory but were knifed in the back by many forces (big economic ones).

And somehow, improbably, I ended up becoming an author. Half by accident. Is that confusing to hear? Well, good. Because it confused me too. (And I don’t recommend trying to be an author on purpose; it’s been harder, much harder than I ever realized it would be beforehand, and I knew it was hard before I did it.)

I have to say the strangest bit has been how I was told to shut up over and over again as a kid. That no one cared what I had to say. That I was weird and that what I said was unacceptable… and that I would grow into an adult, where it’s literally my job to say things. Where people go out of their way to hear them.

I don’t know that I’ll ever get used to it. But maybe that’s not the point.

Maybe the point is that just because people tell us things are so — it doesn’t mean they’re right. And maybe sometimes we have a purpose that might be unpopular at first but turns out to be exactly what the world needs.

Featured Image: PD – Pixabay