There was always that one name we could remember without wanting to. For me, that was Harry.
Harry was the type of student who walked into class and slouched in his chair. He didn’t say much before or after class. He was usually one of the first to leave. During class though, he was a star. Or at least he was to our teacher.
Our teacher changed when she heard him read his creative work. She’d leaned forward in her seat. Her hands held up her head as if she was a little school girl. If she hadn’t heard him speak for a while, she would call on him just to hear his valuable opinion about a story. He could never be wrong to her.
I felt invisible. I could never tell her that of course. I didn’t need her knowledge of it to validate my feelings. I tried to change my work a few times to make it more poetic like his, but it didn’t work. No one saw me.
My written stories never compared to his. I wrote throughout the class on little notes to get everything out. She glared at him with wonder in her eyes. He could speak about a trash can and make it sound beautiful. Of course, I still saw a trash can.
I could never compare to Harry. But I couldn’t compare to a lot of people. To J. K. Rowling, I was a no one. John Green and I could never be seen in the same room. I would never even be an afterthought to James Patterson. I was simply the ground under their feet, supporting them by buying another book, but always out of the picture.
I had never realized how my jealousy slowed down my writing. At the time I had class with Harry, I felt as if I couldn’t write anymore. Why write if he’s just going to be better than me? I never saw the point.
About mid semester, my friend Lily shook her head at me while we were at the Starbucks in our local Barnes & Noble. I was editing my non-fiction memoir for the class I had with Harry, while complaining about him.
“But he doesn’t write like you,” she said. “I like your stories more anyways. He writes like a complicated poet. It’s annoying.”
I paused, never thinking about it like that before. We could both succeed. He could continue writing his non-fiction poetry. I could continue writing my fantasy stories without his influence. I didn’t need his words to guide me. I didn’t have to write like him.
It took me longer than it should’ve to realize this. So just in case you had forgotten:
You have a story inside of you that no one else has. Only you can write it. No one else can write it as brilliantly as you.