Thomas Winzeler, Assistant Editor

Thomas Winzeler, Assistant Editor

The feeling one gets when something they wrote is published onto a printed page or on a website, isn’t just pride, it’s a level up from pride. Pride is when someone tells you that your article, blog, story, piece, crap or whatever you call something you wrote, was really good.

No, the feeling I’m talking about is like a drug that’s made from pride, wonderment (wonderment that people are reading what you wrote, and their telling you that it’s really good) and a euphoria that makes you want to write more. This pleasure can even be gained from just sharing what you wrote to people you know; one doesn’t even have to post it online, a book or a paper for people to read. I could just read something out loud to a group and if half or more of those in the group say what I wrote was really good, and they want to hear more of my writing, that feeling arises. Like a druggie who will do anything for his next hit, writers write to feel it.

I got into writing not just because I like this feeling I get when people talk about how good something I wrote was (let’s call it writer’s crack). I got into writing because when I was younger it was a place to dump my giant imagination during school. I’m an only child and during the summers when all my friends were off on vacation and I was sitting at home with just my parents to talk to and a lazy chocolate Labrador to play with, I had to find a way to entertain myself.

So using some inspiration from movies and TV shows I watched, my toys (which were Legos, stuffed animals, Hot Wheels and Star Wars toys) and my entire room, I created this world with my imagination that all different types of toys were their own factions and they were all at war. It sounds stupid now, but between the ages 6 and 10, it was really fun. I created these storylines that normally would lead up to a big battle and a character’s death. These deaths were permanent, unless it was a toy I favored over the others, then they would make a return (normally in a big battle when they were needed the most).

I needed a place to dump all my thoughts. During this thing called “Journal Time” in second grade, we were given about 10 to 15 minutes a day where we could write anything we wanted into a journal the teacher gave us at the beginning of the year. This is where my love for writing came about, because I would use this time to release my imagination. The thoughts and pure boredom I would have built up during the school day would be released onto paper.

Normally I would write fan fictions of Star Wars, Code Name Kids Next Door, Pirates of the Caribbean and Narnia. These stories usually involved me being the hero, getting the cute girl and lots of telling, not showing.

I also wrote stories that weren’t fan fictions; they were stories of me playing football and being the star quarterback for Texas A&M and beating the University of Texas, or me getting a new dog and teaching it to do tricks such as how to fly and how to speak English. There are more stories I wrote, but I lost them and the journal in the move from Virginia and Texas.

Writing helped me get through my first year in Texas, my third grade year, when I was being bullied. In third grade I was bullied for being the new kid; it wasn’t fun and I didn’t have very many friends. Writing helped me get my frustration and just sadness about why no one was being nice to me and how no one would stand up for me.

On really bad days recess would involve me hiding in tube slide from my bully and his followers. If they found me, they would proceed to either tie me up to a pole of a basketball hoop, give me Indian burns, kick me, hit me in the arm, make fun of how I talked, steal my shoes and sometimes steal my glasses. I would use free time that we had in class to write and let out my frustration and to prevent me from slamming my bullies’ heads into their desks.

It was in third grade that I learned the power in just letting all my thoughts out on to paper. I learned that one, I could let all my jumbled thought caused by my ADHD; two, it was my way of venting and not be judged for what I was saying; and lastly, three, I thought it was fun to write.  

I didn’t discover writer’s crack until fifth grade. We would be given a prompt to write about for the first 15 minutes of English and we could volunteer to read these out loud. In fourth grade we had learned the basics of show, don’t tell and other important stuff for writing stories. One of the important things we learned was when to use show, don’t tell and when not to use it.

Now what does this have to do with writer’s crack and fifth grade? Well, my dear reader, it has everything to do with it. If I had not learned about show, don’t tell, and if I had not started to deploy it in my writing, then in fifth grade I wouldn’t have been constantly asked to read what I wrote for that 15 minute writing time. I wouldn’t have had people telling me I’m really good at writing and that I should continue writing.

My class would beg me to read what I wrote. They wanted me to put them in the stories; they were enjoying something I made. That was a really good feeling for fifth grader Thomas. It was also my first taste of writer’s crack.

Every writer knows that the feeling you get from people telling you they enjoyed your writing won’t last very long. It last for about a few weeks, maybe a month, than disappears without a trace. To replace it comes the feeling that your writing is terrible. It’s a feeling almost every writer has; heck, any type of creator has that feeling.

The most common phrase uttered by writers, artists, musicians, actors, directors, clothing designers, and so on, is “Hey, do you want to look at *insert project here* and give me your thoughts on it? I know, I know, it’s terrible. It’s garbage.”

Sometimes what people see as your best piece of work, can be something that you look at and say “Oh, god, that’s awful. Why does everyone like that?”

Since middle school, I thought only the articles I wrote for the newspaper were good. Even then, some of them just felt short and forced. The other stuff I’ve written, mostly for English classes, have felt rushed and not very well written. So when people, especially my English teachers, tell me that a certain thing written by me was really good, I’m shocked.

One piece in particular, when I reread it, still baffles me that people thought it was really good. It’s the article titled “Keep Your Bias to Yourself.” That article was so short and rushed, the ideas and arguments were not fully developed. It jumps all over the place and never lets one idea sink in. It skims the surface on why bias in the news is something we need to get rid of; however, my parents, friends, neighbors, random strangers, and even Mrs. G claimed it was really good and changed their perception of the news.

The reason it’s so short and rushed was because I was working on a quidditch article for the Asparagus that painted quidditch as a cult, which I thought was so much better. However, it too faces the same problems plagued by “Keep Your Bias to Yourself”: the ideas (in this case jokes) are never fully developed. It jumps from place to place not letting the reader stay in one spot to fully understand what I’m putting down.

Writer’s crack worked on my quidditch article because I felt good writing it, so when everyone in quidditch was saying, “Oh, Thomas, that Quidditch article was so good,” I was getting a dose of writer’s crack. This would motivate me to write more quidditch articles. Compared to “Keep Your Bias to Yourself” where I didn’t have writer’s crack. The compliments about how good the article was just felt so empty and meaningless, because I didn’t like what I wrote, and therefore didn’t have the confidence to believe what people were saying.

The need to write, the usefulness of writing, for me over the years changed depending on my needs. Each time it changed, I would use what I learned before and keep it as a tool.  When I was second grade it was to keep me still and from getting bored. I learned how to be creative and the basics of telling a story. In third grade it was to cope with the bullying, putting all my thoughts and emotions into it. It wasn’t just to keep me distracted, it was to keep me from attacking my bully.

I learned how to channel my emotions and put them in writing, I learned that my characters can be a tool, a vehicle if you will, to let out my emotions. I also learned that I can just write what I’m feeling, not make it into a story. This would be my first stab at nonfiction. In fourth grade, I learned the important show, don’t tell.

I didn’t really have a need for writing that much. I just wrote because I enjoyed it. In fifth grade I gained the need and want to share my writing to other and make my writing good enough to share. From seventh grade all the way to now, my confidence in my writing took some hits. I want to write, but I’m not always confident in what I write, resulting in my thinking people’s compliments are just to make me feel better.

Closing out this tribute, I want to put this idea of writer’s crack aside. I want to put aside the feeling I get when people praise my writing and I feel good about it. Because that’s what writer’s crack is: the feeling you get when people praise your writing and you feel good about it.

I want to answer the question, who am I? I’m definitely not someone who just writes to hear people say how good I am. I write because that’s what I love to do. When I’m bored during the summer, I’ll pull out a journal or piece a paper and just jot down my thoughts or a story idea I have. For me, writing is therapeutic, as it helps get my thoughts out and helps me control my emotions.

I’m a dyslexic with ADHD who likes to write and tell stories. I’m someone who was bullied but fought through it with the help of writing. I’m someone with low self-esteem. I’m someone who wants to be more outgoing, but is constrained by my ADHD medicine, and when I am unmedicated, I’m constrained by my brain telling me to be weird. I am a writer. I am a sports fan. I am Thomas Winzeler.