By Sujana Vangala
For years, I lived in a space of hesitancy, in Plan B’s and safety nets. In the same way, my writing survived in sidewalk cracks because I refused to give the sapling a proper pot.
Writing was my hobby – something stuck between homework sheets, a page in my Notes app, a quiet thing I turned over before I fell asleep. I pushed it to the margins as I embraced topics I had no real interest in (and honestly, no proficiency either). Still, between phases of wanting to be a historian or vet or engineer, writing was the only thing I always came back to.
I sheltered the dark flame – afraid that anyone I told would blow it out. And yet, as a 12-year-old, I was far less discreet than I thought I was. One morning my mother found me writing, so naturally, I slammed the cover of my journal shut. (Not suspicious at all, I know) Still, she pretended not to notice.
‘You know, I always wanted to be a doctor,’ she said.
The immigrant kid to doctor pipeline was one I was all too familiar with, so I was sure this was just another attempt to convert me. Okay, I thought. This time, I’ll bite. ‘Why didn’t you?’
‘Too much work.’ She shrugged.
‘Do you regret it?’
‘Some days, a lot. Some days, less,’ she replied. ‘I’m happy now, but I wonder if I’d be happier.’ She looked at me in the way mothers do, embracing the terrified child inside who begs for someone to reach out a hand, to promise her that she will be okay.
‘Oh,’ is all I said. You never want to think that your mother was once like you – another girl lost in the fray. You want to think that this job, this house, this life was all she ever wanted. That her certainty would trickle down to you.
‘I never want you to wonder about that. I never want you to be so afraid that you miss something incredible, okay?’
‘Geez Ma, it’s just breakfast,’ I joked, but it was so much more. In her words, she gave me acceptance, trust and permission to be what I wanted to be, something I hadn’t known would be this pivotal.
Of course, I’m still a student, so it wasn’t like I dropped out and became an author full-time, but my mother’s advice altered my perspective on writing forever. It was no longer a phantom each day, but a landmark. For the most part, my life remained the same, but my perception had altered completely.
The best writing tip I’ve ever received is to embrace yourself and your craft completely. Being a writer is difficult, but so are most things. I choose to run to the edge of the cliff and look down. I choose to believe there’s a carnival down there, and if there’s not, I’ll write one for myself.
About the Author
Sujana Vangala is a student at Northview High School, USA. When she’s not pilfering her orphaned Google Docs for ideas, she can be found baking, reading, or trying to decipher her calculus homework. She plans on going into the publishing industry when she’s older, but also can be seen drooling over screenplays or poetry on a regular basis. Recognized as the first-place recipient of the Carson McCullers poetry award, her other work can be found in Juven Press, Kalopsia Literary Journal, and her school literary magazine, The Muse.