second grade writing journal
As soon as I understood what it meant to write your own lyrics, I bragged about Taylor Swift’s songwriting abilities to anyone who would listen. “Did you know Taylor Swift wrote that song all by herself? Not many people do that nowadays.” I was seven and smugly parroting a YouTube comment, but the urge to be one of few people who wrote for themselves was strong. I first rewrote Swift’s songs in my own words, thinking I was clever, while really just making them into unintelligible messes. When I finally felt skilled enough to tackle an original song, it was something completely novel: I rhymed “you” with “blue.” (Five times in a row…. Truly groundbreaking material!) But the more I learned about Swift — she won a poetry contest in fourth grade! She says she wrote a book one summer! — the more I wanted to emulate her, the more I wrote and wrote and wrote. Journals filled with attempts at depth and profundity overflow from my desk, and though I now look back on those pages with cringing hindsight, I think about how they wouldn’t exist at all without Taylor Swift.
I’ve certainly improved since my “you/blue” days, having poetry published in my school’s literary magazine and an EP released. In my free time, I write. Now, my Notes app bears the brunt of my thoughts, and my phone’s storage hurts for it, but there are pages and pages in there of lyrics, poetry, story and world ideas, and me processing my own thoughts. What thrills me about writing is that I will always be improving; in ten years I will look back on the note from June 18, 2020, and laugh. And though I’ll be laughing, I’ll have the warm thought that it’s mine. Who knows where I would be if Swift hadn’t inspired me all those years ago; maybe I would still be an aspiring recording artist, but I can’t say that I would be a songwriter. I would be singing and playing songs that others wrote for me; I would be reading poetry in magazines that I didn’t write; I would be taking part in stories that I didn’t think of. Everyone knows the thought upon hearing something particularly clever that they wished they had written it; perhaps this wish is even more acute in writers. But we writers have the one antidote: writing something we can be proud of that induces that thought in others. And this is the everlasting gift of writing that I would not know if I didn’t spend hours watching Taylor Swift interviews on YouTube as a child. Now, I’ve dropped the smugness, but pride remains in being able to say: “I wrote this— just me.”
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