Why I Write Vol. 2: A Firm Hold in the Night

In this series, "Why I Write," members of the Grub community share what compels them to put words onto paper day after day.


In the seventh grade, I sat at my best friend’s kitchen table, on the verge of telling her something huge. I was going to admit that I was...well, I didn’t know exactly what, but I knew that girls made my heart beat a little faster than I thought they should. Especially her, but that was a confession for another day.

Just as I was building up my courage, she blurted out, “Wouldn’t it be weird if one of our friends was secretly a lesbian? Like, wouldn’t that be super weird?” I stared at my algebra homework so hard that I still remember what the variable was.

I didn’t try to tell anybody else for two years, and I’m thankful it was only that long.

Instead, I wrote. I never wrote about my identity; thanks to that encounter, I wasn’t ready to own it as mine. I filled the pages of a yellow spiral-bound notebook, and then another, and then another, with all of the feelings that rose up in the vacuum created by my denial. It was all abstract and horribly written, but at least it was real. I showed my best friend those notebooks, because the relief in the words wasn’t just writing them, but sharing them—knowing that somebody could hear me.

I had always written stories, but that was the first time that my words were a lifeline. It hasn’t been the last. I write when I have words spilling out of me that have nowhere else to go. I call a pen and notebook into my hands when it’s too late at night to call anyone else. I write because someday I want to have something worth sharing—something that will be the safety net someone else’s hand reaches for in the darkness, where once my words were the wriggling fingers, searching for a firm hold in the night.

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About the Author See other articles by Ren C. Smith
by Ren C. Smith


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