To Julia, 2007

A letter to my 11-year-old-self. 

Dear Julia,

Congratulations on winning the poetry contest! I’d forgotten about the contest, but Mama found a printed copy in her bottom desk drawer last week and she sent it to me. I enjoyed rereading it! I also read the note that Mrs. Kennedy left for you too – did you read it? In the note, Mrs. Kennedy told you to consider becoming a poet someday. You didn’t take that to heart though, huh? Because you thought poetry could only ever be a hobby. There’s no such thing as a professional poet, you thought.

Poets don’t make money, you thought. They can’t support themselves. So you decided to keep poetry as a hobby so you could focus on your academics instead.

You’re going to do really well in school, you know – you’ll get good grades all through middle school and then high school and then you’ll get accepted into a prestigious university. (No, I’m not going to tell you where! That would spoil the surprise. It’s a nice one though, trust me.)

But when you enter college, you’ll realize that you have no idea what you want to do with you life. You’ve spent the last few years devoting your time to things that SCHOOL wanted you to study, not what YOU wanted. You never gave yourself the opportunity to figure out what you really care about, so once you had the chance to choose – you got lost. You didn’t know which direction to take because you had no idea what you really wanted.

So you asked Dada, what should I do? And he told you to become a lawyer because lawyers love reading and writing and you’ve always loved to read and write. So that’s what you did – you chose to major in Political Science and focused on doing well academically again, since law school expects applicants to have perfect grades.

But that won’t make you happy. In fact, it’ll even make you sad, frustrated, and hopeless.

Now, I know that this definitely does not sound like very good news, but don’t worry, you won’t be sad forever. Because at the end of your 2nd year in college, you’re going to make a life-changing decision – you’re going to take a creative writing class! This class will give you the chance to write again. But not academic writing – CREATIVE writing. You’ll get to write a poem, a short story, and a creative non-fiction piece. You’ll write a poem and your professor will compliment it in front of everyone. You’ll thrive in that class. Your passion for creative writing will be rekindled. And then you’ll realize that writing is the only thing that you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life. Not law. You want to be a writer, Julia, not a lawyer. I need you to understand that now, while you’re still 11 years old. Imagine how much you – we! – can write in ten years. A lot!

So even if you don’t like the stuff that you write, write anyway. Even if you don’t think that you can support yourself as a writer, write anyway! Because you are born to be writer and you will want to be a writer for the rest of your life. Trust me on this.

Because now that I’ve finally decided to devote my life to writing, I’ve never been happier. And I want you to be happy, Julia. I want us to be happy.




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