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Rated: ASR · Essay · Personal · #2283027
I’m freer. For I Write: Decade Edition. Round three, week six.

The liberty to be who I want to be, to express myself in my choices, has been a challenge for most of my life. The expectation is that I be polite, don’t rock the boat, let it go, suck it up. I have not always succeeded at behaving myself, and in recent years, care less about making the effort.

This year, I’ve loosened up more than before. I’m bolder, more willing to try new things, and less likely to think badly of myself. I hang back less, with fewer iterations of “It’s not important” or “I can wait.” Overall, I’m throwing out a lot of old thinking, and disposing of insecurities, too.

I Write: Decade Edition is the catalyst for these changes. This was my first writing challenge, and I had a simple goal—earn the merit badge. Posting one piece of writing a week intimidated me, and focusing on the achievement helped me to get the week’s writing done and posted. Once I accepted the people reviewing me weren’t going to revile me for the quality or subject matter of my writing, I was able to push through and complete ten pieces. Some are personal, like this one. The others are fanfiction.

The prejudice against fanfiction not being real writing was something I believed. My stories, set in the How to Train Your Dragon universe, were composed of inferior ideas and worse writing. Signing up for I Write was an effort to get past this type of thinking. My reviewers liked what I wrote, when I wasn’t sure I liked it.

I wrote short stories that made people smile. I wrote about four-year-old boys, building furniture, and communicating with a Night Fury. I put out accounts of inventing the frisbee, summer jobs, and humans plotting with dragons.

I stretched my skill, tackling subjects like mistreatment of women and ostracism. I penned more dramatic tales featuring battle and amputation. I populated my stories with characters like Coalie the Scottish blacksmith and Rudric, heir to his tribe. I write the stories no one’s thought up.

For I Write, I’ve composed stories about duty and responsibility, struggle and joy, humor and philosophy. I’ve written fear and pain and grief and loss, and wisdom arriving in strange packaging.

As my characters grew, so did I. As my characters made changes and took on new work and endured turmoil, they made it through to the other side. Coalie is learning Norse, and I’m learning to listen. Hiccup is giving a eulogy for a dead man, and I’m speaking up. Hiccup has a summer job, and my son is done with school and starting his new job. The isle of Berk continues to change, and so do I.

I Write ends in a few weeks. This challenge has changed me, liberated me to be more than who I am today. I’ve bettered myself as a writer, but also discovered how much better it is to take risks and become comfortable in my own skin. I pushed myself to write, I forced my characters to act, and they untied my straightjacket.

Thank you, Annette.

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