Growing up as a foster youth, I had a hard time adjusting to society and finding where I belonged. Between the innate fear that most foster youth have of not finding a family that will keep them and feeling like an outsider among peers, I often felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. Luckily for me, I ended up being adopted a lot earlier than most foster youth, so the fear of not finding a family disappeared. Unfortunately, I still felt like an outsider and struggled to fit in in with my adoptive family and my peers at school. I always found myself escaping to other worlds. I spent days as a Pokémon trainer and at night I moonlighted as a dragon slayer and prophetic savior to a variety of kingdoms in a multitude of universes. I combated isolation and feeling out of place by sailing through a sea of literature, getting lost in video games, and immersing myself in movies and television. I fell in love with media and storytelling. But as I absorbed more and more media I started to notice a trend of exclusion or blatant stereotypes. Due to the lack of representation of people like me, I didn’t feel like my place was anywhere in media either.
This is when I decided that, due to my love of media and the lack of representation I was seeing, I wanted to work in media. At the time, I struggled to figure out what path I wanted to take. I liked a lot of different forms of media. I even tried some of them on my own. I uploaded my own comedy videos to YouTube, made music, and worked as the head DJ at an online radio station. It took a while to figure out what I wanted to do in life, and no one really ever asked me what I was interested in.
Because of my lack of guidance, I ended up jumping into a game design program at Academy of Art in San Francisco. It wasn’t a great fit. The courses there ended up being foundation art classes with lots of drawing. As much as I enjoyed art, I realized after two years of studying there that game design wasn’t for me. But one good thing came out of my time at AAU: the time I spent in San Francisco. I spent many hours exploring the city and reading about its myths and legends. I took photos of my favorite spots and came up with stories. One day, while sitting in a park downtown and soaking in the scenery of the city, it hit me: this was where I belonged. I loved San Francisco and the Bay Area and I wanted to tell the world about it. I wanted people to know about more than the Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, and the Painted Ladies. I wanted to tell them about the underground city, the sunken ships buried beneath the foundation downtown, the aftermath of the Great Earthquake and Fire in 1906, and the city’s wonderful residents.
I’ve been working on a story since then, set entirely in a future San Francisco filled with myths, legends, heroes, and monsters. This story has helped me see my city in an entirely different way and motivated me to seek out new experiences.
This isn’t surprising. Throughout my whole life, creative writing has helped me expand my mind, broaden my skillset, and become a better communicator. Thanks to creative writing, I’m able to express myself better. It has also made me a better reader, which has also benefitted me greatly. Books are a wealth of knowledge that tend to be underappreciated. Reading and writing regularly can help improve vocabulary, increase mental stimulation, and improve memory, focus, and concentration. They can even help a lost kid like me better understand the world. Everything you read is filled little bits of new information. Whether it’s about culture, the economy, or society, books are constantly filling us with knowledge. The more knowledge you’re equipped with, the easier the challenges of the future are to handle.
These skills are especially important for children who are struggling with reading, writing, math, and learning in general. Children are capable of so much, and oftentimes they know the answers to questions but struggle to articulate themselves. Children who pursue creative writing tend to engage better with what they’re reading. It helps children synthesize everything they know, from science to geometry to Shakespeare, in a fun way. You’d be surprised at what your kid can come up with when their creativity is encouraged.
Creative writing is also a way for children to experiment with socializing. The entire point of creative writing is to help writers express themselves, and this can often be an excellent avenue for children who struggle to communicate verbally to get their thoughts down and think about themselves in relation to others. Accompanying creative writing with reading can help children understand themselves and empathize better.
Though reading and writing are the main reason why I’m where I am today, I am grateful that I took the time to explore other hobbies and interests first. Those special helped me explore more specialized areas of creative writing. Though people often think of novels and short stories when they hear the term “creative writing,” media such as video games, movies, and TV shows are the product of writing. Taking time to explore those interests encouraged me to use my writing skills in different ways.
Over the past 3 years that I’ve started studying writing seriously, I’ve learned a lot and have managed to produce a lot of my own original work. I’ve written screenplays and television pilots for children’s shows. I’ve written advertisements for businesses. I’ve even started my own blog where I upload original short stories and published a story through Amazon. I didn’t do this on my own. Around the time that I started writing as a career, I found a wonderful partner (who also happens to be an editor!) that I’ve been with for 3 years now. She is my first reader and helps bring my ideas to life. Without her showing an interest in my writing and helping to foster my talents, none of this would have been possible.
Creative writing made my dreams achievable and helped shape me into the person that I am today. I would be an entirely different person without it. Because of that, I hope to one day inspire children to know that creative writing is a path that they can comfortably pursue as a career, because we all need to feel represented.