Me and the written word

Arushi Tandon
5 min readMay 24, 2021

The written word has piqued my interest since I was a kid and I’m going to tell you all about it.

Photo by Alex Loup on Unsplash

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” — Stephen King

This particular topic probably doesn’t surprise anyone since writing has been my thing for quite some time now. I was eight years old when I first picked up a pen and wrote a letter to the person who invented Mathematics. I questioned them why they created this discipline that did not seem to appeal to me, no matter what I did.

I was always fond of subjects that didn’t involve numbers. The written word appealed to me more simply because I could grasp it and I was good at it too.

Weaving words together to form story-like descriptions and meaningful sentences was a strength I explored quite often. My 12- year-old self put a few A4 sheets together, folded and stapled them to create her first-ever magazine.

I got into reading books later than most of my peers but when I picked up my first Nancy Drew at the age of 13, there was no looking back after that. In 9th grade, I was caught in Chemistry class reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire instead of learning the periodic table. This pretty much sums up my school experience too.

At the age of 14, I wrote my first ever short story which caught the eye of my English teacher and she encouraged me to write more. Soon after, I started using an old notebook to write a novel inspired by all the books I read. This novel had elements of fantasy, romance, sci-fi, adventure, comedy, and every other genre fitting for a 14-year-old’s imagination. I don’t remember if I finished this novel but I do remember how much fun I had writing it.

The written word has always been my best friend and my close companion in times of distress. Be it through non-fiction articles, fictional stories, journalling — I have always found comfort in both writing and reading.

I remember coping with my grandfather’s death in 2009 with books and journals too. They were the only way I felt better and was able to fill the gaping hole in my heart.

I got into poetry some time then too. All through this time, I was encouraged to both read and write. This really helped solidify my interests. However, life happened.

I was keen on studying either Literature or Journalism for my undergraduate degree but thanks to the excellent admission criteria of our education system, I didn’t qualify for either course in any of the good colleges here. So I took my next best option — Sociology.

Now, I don’t regret studying Sociology one bit. If anything, this subject helped me become more aware of the space I occupy in this world and opened my eyes to a lot of socialization and conditioning I may not have known otherwise. I am grateful to Sociology for all of that and more. However, studying a subject in college that was not my primary area of interest confused my young adult self a lot.

While I had the opportunity to study Literature as a subject almost every semester in college and intern in media publications during the summer breaks too, I still felt like I was losing touch with writing and reading.

To counter this, I started writing for online publications while still in college and used my sociological knowledge in my writing. This helped me get back on track, to an extent.

Post-college, I was struck by personal tragedy and spent some time bedridden due to illness. This was a tough time and as much as I wish the written word could have been there for me, it wasn’t. I simply did not have the time, energy, or capacity to read or write anymore.

While I did get back to it all once I started recovering, I now had a new expectation of myself that was waiting to tear me apart — adulthood.

Part of me still wanted to be a writer, editor, publisher; basically anything that would keep me close to books and literature in any form. Then there was this other part of me that ached to be more rational and pragmatic. This side of me wanted to do something that would give me something to brag about, something that paid my bills and kept me occupied so I wouldn’t have to think of my illness-related trauma in any way.

I chose the latter and threw myself into “professional life.” Picked up a job I knew I wouldn’t enjoy by the very nature of it too. As expected, I struggled at this job, took up another one six months later, and while I enjoyed this one a lot more than its predecessor, I hit a standstill and felt saturated a year later because my work did not feel nearly creative enough by then. Post this, I worked my last job which gave me a lot of organizational experience, but not nearly enough for me to explore myself creatively.

All of this leads to where I am today. Freelancing as a writer and editor while awaiting my masters, which begins in about two months. I am finally going to pursue a degree in journalism and communications. Something I now assume I was destined to do from the very beginning, it just took some time getting here.

Life has a funny way of panning itself out, exactly the way it wants to. It really does feel like you’re not in control at times but that’s far from the truth. Every decision I consciously made led to where I was, and where I am now. I decided when I wanted to write, and I decided when I did not.

I have now made the decision that I do. I want to read, I want to write, I want to edit, I want to immerse myself in the written word as much as I possibly can.

My existence is tied by a thin yet resilient thread that only allows me to thrive when I am being creative and engaging with literature in different forms — be it through articles, books, or any form of media. This is exactly where I belong.