My story begins December 9th, 2005. It might have actually been a little later than that, but December 9th was when the first Chronicles of Narnia movie, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, came out in theaters. Truthfully, I don’t remember the exact date that me and my family saw the Narnia movie – I was 6, and just recently 6, at the time – but I do remember just how quickly I fell in love with C.S. Lewis. I’ve been lead to believe that I spent some time doing things before I started reading, but I have no memory of that, so we’ll chalk it up to heresy for now.

Two months before the theatrical release of LWW, I was moved from the 1st grade to the 2nd grade. I wasn’t bullied or ostracized (purposefully) by my classmates, despite being younger and smaller than all my new classmates, but I was naturally shy and a bit behind the social learning curve. Books became a refuge. And after seeing Narnia, I was in love with a world that I could not get enough of. I read the entire series over winter break, and even though I didn’t quite grasp the concept of deep literary analysis and theory yet, I fell in love with the power of language to evoke emotion, and conjure images, and ring in my head for days after. My heart was set. I was going to be a writer, no matter the cost and no matter what that actually meant.

Fast forward two years, and I’m in the 4th grade, joining an online community that would change my life forever. Whirled.com was a flash based sandbox game that encouraged creativity and community and friendship and is sadly no longer active, but for the eight years that it was, it was a staple in my life. Whirled gave me the community that I had always looked for but never found at school or church. It allowed me to talk to people outside of my small Midwestern town. It allowed me to question and lead and feel and thrive.

I continued to read. I started to write fanfiction, horrible awful fanfiction that has been purged from the Internet but is still precious simply because it’s where I started writing. I made friends and loved more deeply than I had ever thought was possible in my young life up ‘til that point. In the 6th grade, I started writing my own original project. The Retreat of the Gods is still up and running, due mostly to how much work was put into it in middle school.

9th grade saw the start of high school, the end of a lot of other things, but most importantly, the beginning of my speech and debate career. Debate changed so many things for me. My business professional competitive clothes became a casual menswear-inspired personal style. I began to understand the world of politics around me, and began to strive to understand it better. But most of all, if middle school is when I realized that I could write, debate is where I learned how to. True- most of it was essay writing, but the art of crafting a message under time constraints to persuade, captivate, and enthrall my judges competitively has informed my writing style more than is possible to tell. Weekend in and out, I learned what it was to meet my academic equals and to strive to beat them. The friendships made at tournaments are not ones that will be easily broken, even though my career is not over.

Which brings us to the present. In the fall, I’ll be off to college to study History, or maybe Political Science, and Creative Writing. I am elbows-deep in revisions of my first novel, the manuscript of which was written during NaNoWriMo of my freshman year. I have a phenomenal friend group, bonds forged through the fire of adolescence and broken families, a suit collection that I am maybe too proud of, a myriad of (semi)radical opinions, a laptop, an unlimited amount of blank Google documents, too much indie music, and an unhealthy fascination with revolution. And so now we’re here, and let’s see where it takes us.