As I sit here, struggling to make anything print-worthy out of a gray and uneventful couple of weeks, I think to myself that this is what I claim to want to do with my life. I say that I want to be a writer, to repeatedly, and willingly, submit to this mild torture.

As we progress in English class, from introverted Hawthorne to crunchy Thoreau to alcoholic Poe to hard-partying Fitzgerald, my classmates voice the question, "Aren't there any normal writers?" Of course there are | it's just that the best ones tend to be the slightly, or completely, crazy ones.

This is what I want to do with my life?

Phillip Pullman, one of my favorite authors, said, "All writing is hard. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don't get plumber's block, and doctors don't get doctor's block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it?"

I volunteered for this. I write because I love it, and because, at times, I feel like I have to. Writing, for me, begins with my own need to figure things out.

When I recently told my dad I wanted to be some kind of writer, but I really didn't know anything for sure, he said, jokingly, "There's always property management." Great.

I'm going to keep trying, for whatever it's worth. I will continue writing stories that go nowhere, essays that run all over the page and columns that don't make a great deal of sense | and hopefully I will always be lucky enough to have at least one person willing to tell me that I should toss it out and start over.

So maybe in 10 years, you will see my bylines, or maybe I will have come to my senses and gone to business school.

Either way, I hope that I will someday open the scrapbook of these columns, which my grandmother keeps religiously, and see the 17-year-old me, young, untested and not a very good writer, just writing in an effort to make sense of her own life.

Ellen Stuart is a junior at Londonderry High School and a columnist and intern at the Derry News.

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