My Greatest Love & My Major

When I was a kid, my Nana Sally instilled a love in me that has yet to be matched. She brought me a big book full of all the Peter Rabbit stories. I pretended I couldn’t read very well for a few years, despite being ahead of most of my peers in reading level, so that I could hear her read to me. I don’t remember her doing any special voices, but I do remember her voice flowing like honey as she read my favorite stories to me. Her voice continues to flow like honey, though now we discuss our recent reads and recommend each other books. When I visit her, she takes me to volunteer at the local Sorting Room. As I sift through the books with her and her friends, I hand her books to set aside for me, as she has been doing my entire life. My love of reading comes entirely from my Nana Sally.

 

It wasn’t a surprise to me when I started writing. In third grade, we would be given pieces of paper that were half lined, half for coloring. We were only required to fill one piece of paper, and then we could color in whatever design decorated the paper. I never got to coloring. I would fill pages upon pages, and when I couldn’t finish in class, I would go home and continue to write. Nothing had ever felt so natural to me. Nana Sally and I used to write each other letters, talking about whatever story we were currently invested in. I would write to her and tell her about all the stories I was writing, and ask for her advice. How do I get myself to actually finish one of the many stories I’ve started writing? What do you think I should do with this character? How should this story end? She isn’t a writer, but she’d do her best, telling me what she thought would make a good story. The first time I finished a story, it was roughly 80 pages in length, typed. I was in seventh grade, and it wasn’t very good. But it was mine, and I was proud. I sent it to Nana Sally, and then to the whole family. I’ve kept every email and comment I’ve received from these stories. I remember what my nana told me after that first story: Maybe you should reconsider being a rockstar and consider being an author. And here I am.

 

Within five years, I’ve written four novels, each ranging from sixteen to thirty chapters. I started with fanfiction. Today, I have a short story published on an online literary magazine. I write every week for Her Campus, and I’m working on creating a website where I can regularly post my work. In short, I am a writer. I have known what I’ve wanted to do when I grow up since third grade, when I never got to coloring anything in. The first time I sent Nana Sally my work and she told me to be an author, I knew what I wanted to do. It has been my dream to know that my Nana will someday read one of my books.

 

When it came time to apply for college, English was the only thing that really made sense to me. Still, I doubted it. I told my parents I was going to major in history, because that seemed more practical. A defining moment in my life came at an Applebee’s, when I was sitting across a booth from my parents and told them this plan. My dad shook his head. “But you can do it. I’ve read your work. You write like a professional. Why would you settle for history when I know, your mom knows, and you know that you can really make it as an author?” With a push from my teachers, I applied to be a creative writing major. And now here I am: happy, excited, and halfway done with college. The thing is, not everyone is as understanding or supportive as my parents. When I tell strangers or other family members that I’m a creative writing major, I’m often met with, “Really? Why? What will you do with that?” and other doubting words. Once, my neighbor actually told me, “Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out. You have plenty of time.” The thing is, I have figured it out. I know what I want to do. It’s completely valid to come into college having no idea what you want to do and remaining undeclared for a few years or changing your major seven times. But I know what I want to do, and I’ve always known what I want to do. I’ve never doubted that this is the right major for me. I’ve never doubted my writing abilities. I don’t know if I’ll become a best-selling author or ever do a book tour or win a Pulitzer prize. But what I do know is that that is my dream. I know that so far, all my dreams have come true. So why would I ever doubt myself? Why would I listen to people who have no idea what my history with writing is, or where my passion and drive have taken me?

 

A few days ago, I told Alexandra about the last novel I wrote, and how I’ve mentally edited it for over two years but have yet to actually sit down and edit it. I told her the original plot and how it will change. I told her my goal for this summer is to edit it and self publish it. I watched her eyes grow wide and her expression get excited. “If I walked into a bookstore and read that description, I would buy that book in a heartbeat.” Her words reminded me of when I asked my Film teacher to edit my short story. He’s a hardass, but he’s honest and compassionate, and when I walked into his room a few days after sending him my work, he got giddy. He kicked his feet like a kid in a candy shop, smiled at me, and said, “You’re a writer, kid.”

 

I’ve been a writer since I was nine years old. With each work that I’ve written, I’ve improved. I’ve been the fanfiction author on Wattpad. I’ve hidden behind a screen name on Tumblr and posted short stories about my favorite characters. I’ve created my own worlds and my own characters and made people laugh and cry and feel everything I want them to feel. I’ve fallen in love with my characters and cried when they cried. Every time I show someone my work, it feels like I’m showing them the most vulnerable parts of myself. I love being vulnerable. I love positive feedback and constructive criticism. I love watching the people I love get giddy over what I wrote. And this all started because my Nana would bring me books she found in the Sorting Room that she thought I would like. I owe every word I’ve ever written to her. Everything I write is dedicated to her. Everything I will write will be dedicated to her. My first dedication page for my first novel that I’ll publish will read: “To my parents, for always believing in me. To Davis and Mrs. Bhowmick, for pushing me to believe in myself. And to Nana Sally, for starting it all.” And here I am, twenty years old, still writing, still consuming books like they’re air I need to breathe, all thanks to her.