• J. Alleyn

How Writing Improves Living

It's been a while! A lot has gone down as my life got busier, but it's given me a great deal to reflect upon. I was talking with a coworker of mine about how much my morale has improved since I started writing again back in 2018. She was genuinely happy for me, listening as I rambled on about my excitements. That was when a topic came up that I have begun to share little by little at work: my gender identity. She admitted to she felt bad for mixing up my pronouns after a year, but I told her that transitioning isn't just for the individual. Everyone around us has to transition how they witness the outward transformation into how we feel inside. I said it was a lot like how authors have to translate the story in their imagination for a reader to enjoy. Not everyone gets it, but understanding grows with time. She smiled at me, saying she never thought of it that way.

That brings me to today's post. I have mentioned that I struggled to connect with people all of my life. I don't wrap my head around the same humor as a good bit of my peers, and the ones I do tend to clash on the more serious sides of things. I didn't grow up watching the same cartoons or movies, and I happen to enjoy black and white films and television, while even my wife wonders how I can immerse myself with so little detail. I read older books instead of more modern children's titles. I suppose you could say I grew up in a time capsule of the past, and I felt out of place in this strange future.

Authors create from what they know, so I worried how could I connect with current readers. I fantasize about escaping to worlds for adventure and fun, but I also wonder about the shadows of the human heart that influence our trials and temptations. Was that too old-fashioned? I had no way of knowing when my peers and friends didn't grow up reading the same books or watching the same things I did. The only thing area I knew overlapped was something that helped shape my identity growing up: mythology.

Being homeschooled, you get a little more freedom in how you research projects and papers. My best friend was the encyclopedia on my father's computer. I had always been fascinated by the moon, and during a project, I stumbled across myths about the moon in the encyclopedia. My favorite was the Greek Titaness Selene and her lover Endymion, but this was merely the gateway to a lifelong passion for myths and lore.

My search brought me to Phanes, one of the primordial gods of Greek mythology. What intrigued me the most was that Phanes was intersexed, both male and female at the same time. I looked up this new term, and my mind was struck with understanding. I found the word transsexual, a person that emotional and psychologically feels they belong to the opposite sex. I had reasoned early on that I was a boy, regardless of what my parents called me, but I felt it was a unique phenomenon to myself and nothing could explain my belief. There I was though - eleven years old - learning the ancients had things figured out. Mythology became my go-to for understanding things I disagreed with in my religious lessons and Sunday School. My junior year of high school began my one-year to read up on paganism and decide my path. Obviously, my choice was yes.

The spiritual way of life helped me embrace my identity in a way my family failed. I found my connection to the world through ancient poets like Homer, weaving lessons into their epic stories. I had played around with writing in secondary school, but it was my mid-twenties that I knew I had to be a storyteller. Not just because it was my only natural skill - in my opinion - but I saw how creative writing helped me convey ideas and desires I couldn't express otherwise. In the last two years, I have learned how to cope with my own shadow from just revising my manuscripts, and it has opened my eyes to how I fit in the world.

Reflecting on my conversation with my coworker this past week, I realized that being a writer and a storyteller has taught me patience with others and myself. A great book takes time to polish before its ready to share, and as an FtM transsexual, I am my own book, taking my time to become my best, authentic self. The same goes for my readers. If I don't describe my worlds well, they can't see the beauty in my mind and share my enthusiasm. I cannot force others to see me as I feel unless I communicate with patience and grace, understanding that not everyone will grasp the concept right away. Not everyone loves Harry Potter, but does that stop J.K. Rowling? I think not.

My closing thoughts are that stories aren't just entertainment. They are the closest means to walk in the shoes of another and understand them. For readers, it's like making a friend that stays with you for life. For writers, at least for me, it's fleshing out another facet of myself or the ideas I contemplate, so others can connect with me. I've read that authors are the gods of their stories, and I think that's empowering as hell because that means I have control where I once felt powerless. As always, I thank you for reading, and until next time, be blessed, my friends, and happy holidays. -J

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