“Why do you write?” the journalist asked me as the glare of the studio lights shone right into my eyes. It was my very first television interview as a writer and the question caught me off guard. I sat silently on the studio couch for a moment, not knowing how to explain the innate skill which had led me to being interviewed in the first place. “Why do I write?” I thought to myself…
The day my parents died in that horrific car accident, I honestly did not know how to feel. Was it real? Would I ever see them again? Cartoons, though deep inside I knew were not real, seldom died for good – did that mean that my parents would wake up too? While childcare services and police spoke to the adults who had all of a sudden flooded our middle-class suburban home, I rushed to my bedroom to get the one thing I knew could help ease the pain: the little pink diary which my mother had bought for my ninth birthday.
The days that followed the accident were strange, to say the least. The house felt empty even though dozens of people from the community were there day and night. My escape was writing in my pink diary. I wrote about the good times I had once shared with my parents, and I wrote about the future I once wished for and which I knew would never come to pass. I wrote about how I missed my mother’s cooking and how there was no longer anyone there to capture my netball and athletic competitions on video. I wrote about the bullying I faced at school and how I had no one to talk about. I wrote about my nightmares of being stuck alive in a coffin, the same double coffin in which I had seen my parents’ bodies for the last time. Writing everything down gave me a sense of joy and relief.
Life quickly went from bad to worse, and a wave of inspiration came over me. I was only 14 years old when I bought my first notebook and pen from a street vendor. Every beating, every insult and every day of starvation inspired me to write, which in turn kept a smile on my face and determination in my heart. Each word I wrote down represented a tear and each punctuation mark represented the brief moments of joy I felt when the optimist in me was convinced that everything would be okay on the next page.
At 18 years old, I bought a hardcover notebook and began writing my autobiography. Each sentence brought back horrible memories of a childhood no sane parent wishes for their offspring. I remember my fingers aching from all the writing and I remember my pens quickly running out of ink. I didn’t own a computer, so my notebook was all I had, grammatical errors and all. After six months of vigorous writing, my first book was completed and I couldn’t have been more proud of myself. I didn’t know whether or not to share my autobiography with the world, but I knew that I hadn’t wasted my time writing it. I ended up publishing it two years later, and so began my career as a writer. The ups, the downs, the competitions I have won and even the long periods of writer’s block have given purpose to my life.
…“Why do you write?” the journalist repeated with a genuinely curious look in her eyes. “It heals me” I answered, “Writing heals me”.
PS: The pictures below are real images of the very first notebook in which I wrote my autobiography. I wrote it back in 2010, 8 years ago!