Choosing to be Gifted: How I Discovered the Will to Write
Editor’s note: Josefa Linnell earned an honorable mention for this entry in the 2015 Seton Christmas Essay contest.
It is wasting away in the dusty corners of her heart. It hides in the dimming shadows of her soul. It is cowering beneath the imperious pillars of her intellect. It is scurrying fearfully through the tangled forests of her imagination. It is her inspiration. It is intimidated by a single question.
In the back of the library, tucked away, a girl stares at the keyboard of the computer she is in front of. She asks herself: What is the greatest gift we have been given? Each individual has been given special talents, but what has the whole of humanity been blessed with? She considers. She knows there is an answer. She glances around.
She is in the library. Words? No. That is too generic. She looks at the shelves stocked with books. So many books. How many books, how many words, are not gifts to anyone and go unappreciated? She will never write a story that is a gift to the world. Her soul dims a little more because she knows this is true. She leaves. The next day she comes back to the library.
Once again, she feels that the books surrounding her intimidate her, close in on her like walls. All these stories with names, yet they remain nameless. Is our gift the ability to use words? she asks herself.
No, it cannot be. How many people have conceived an idea which was a gift to them, who intended their words as a gift, who thought they were gifted? Yet their words scorn or mock or die… fading into black on useless pages. What if her words do that? She shivers and leaves the library again. Why does she belittle herself like this?
When she returns to the library a final time, she wanders between the shelves as if they are a maze she will never escape from, because these books haunt her mind. She looks at all of the books again. She looks at all of the titles in gold print, in fancy script, in plain text. What is our gift?
She believes if she can answer this question, she can start using it. She believes the answer is in these shelves and she has to keep looking. But she has not written a word lately. So what is my gift? Her eye catches the title of Pride and Prejudice on a shelf nearby. As she moves closer to it, the titles of other classics pop out at her. These authors—Austen, Dickens, Homer—they were gifted, were they not?
She, the girl, has Great Expectations. She has Pride and Prejudice. She is ready for the Odyssey, but she just needs Persuasion. Where will she get it? Every word that comes to her mind rages around inside her in chaos, breaking her to pieces. They constantly tell her, themselves, that they are not good enough.
She is sinking deeper and deeper into darkness, like trying to battle through a dark wood. How will she find her way out? The words are supposed to bring joy. They are not supposed to make her miserable. Then she knows. Willpower. Willpower is our gift. This is the book she is supposed to write.
The authors of the great works on the shelf before her are considered the greatest authors of all time. But were they actually born gifted? Perhaps they simply had the will to write great stories. They had the willpower to write what became gifts to humanity. They made a choice to become what they did. They made a choice to be gifted.
The girl believes we all have stories within us to tell and to write and to share with the world. These stories are already good enough. God has already created the stories; it is we who must discover them and carve them out. This gift, willpower, is about writing even when it seems to prove pointless.
For these great authors, it was about believing in their own stories, being the only ones who did, for the sake of the story. It was about being willing to take the chance that they could get the world to believe in what only one person did before. It was about seeing what they wanted to become before they became it.
This is our gift — making a choice to be great. The girl understands now, and she smiles, surrounded by the titles. The titles which sing to her now, beckon to her to write one that will join them in their stature.
It is time to remove the gift from where it gathers dust in the corners of her heart, and use it. She is surrounded by the books, the great titles she is choosing to see and hopes to create. Their authors chose to be gifted.
She can too.
by Josefa Linnell
Josefa Linnell is in 11th grade and lives with her family on Cape Cod, MA. She has wanted to be a writer since she was six. It is hard for her to believe in her dream, but writing is her soul and identity. She has been published several times for her poetry, and won a scholarship to an adults’ writing conference. She covers her local high school’s boys’ varsity basketball team for the town paper.
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