At the age of 6, I decided I was going to write the Great American Novel. The world had no idea what was coming.

Within a few years, I had written nine books. Although it definitely seems impressive, each book was only about 20 pages. The little details, however, didn’t matter because I had just penned the next “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Huckleberry Finn.”

After I had finished the novels, I decided I was tired of being an author. I had poured a lot of effort into producing nine amazing books, so I couldn’t imagine there was much more to it than that.

I have returned to writing novels frequently over the years, but it hasn’t been for more than a few weeks at a time. Throughout the past seven years of my professional writing career, I have written dozens of expositions, but I haven’t written a conclusion since I was 9.

With so many unfinished novels, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would ever be able to write the novel I wanted to publish. I believed that one of the dozens of exposition I had written would become the novel that would propel me to fame, but it was this thought that caused my writer’s block over the years. I became so consumed with writing something award-winning that I couldn’t write at all.

A few weeks ago, I attended a conference about journalism. I learned a lot about writing columns, editorials, and other essential writing skills, but, most importantly, I became motivated to write in order to tell a story that the world needs to hear instead of telling a story in order to win the Pulitzer Prize.

This time is different because I have realized that writing allows me to go anywhere I want, say anything I need, and be everything I am. I am inspired by every portion of my life because every piece fits into the story that has been waiting inside of my mind to be written down in paper. I have always wanted to tell my stories, but I have been too shy to tell them. Through writing, I have found a voice without having to speak.

For me, writing is more than just a string of words on a piece of paper; it is a painting of the voice. From the black and white that fill the pages, we see colors within our minds as we follow characters through a journey, opinions through a justification process, and minds through a million thoughts that are implied and otherwise.

Writing isn’t about the finished product or the destination because writing is never finished. For centuries, people have discussed Austen and Dickens because the ideas continue to live on even after the novels have been published. For centuries to come, humanity will continue to debate the ideas that writing has conveyed and will convey.

However, these ideas don’t simply come from the author. The words themselves choose to speak inside the author’s mind; the writer is only listening, and the reader is interpreting based on their life experience.

Therefore, a group of words can mean so many things. Since writing will always be alive, the meaning of words can change depending on the reader, so the discussions centered around writing will never cease as long as the words remain on the paper.

As I have learned these things about writing, I have realized that I don’t want to have my novel finished within a year. I don’t want a book published on the shelf as soon as I can have one written. I only want to be proud of the message I have conveyed, and I wish that my writing will be interpreted in a thousand different ways by thousands of people.

For every drop of ink, I hope to make a million think.

Emelia Richling is a sophomore at Northwest High School.

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