Who Am I?

That’s a good question.

Over the years I’ve been asking myself that very same question. Who am I? What do I do and what do I want to do. It’s taken me a few years to actually gather up enough courage to admit this, but I want, more than almost anything, to be published.

Let me start from the beginning.

I was born in San Jose California and haven’t lived anywhere else since 1995. My home is here, my family is here. My life is here. And while I’ve always felt that there is something more for me out there, the thought of leaving the comfort of my home and family has always been that of myth. Why would I want to leave if everything I need is right at my fingertips? Nevertheless there was always this nagging feeling that I was meant for something more. To be honest, when I was younger, I mistook this feeling for having superpowers. A few broken bones and one bright pink cast later, I figured that maybe, if I had superpowers, flying wasn’t one of them.

I wrote stories for as long as I can remember. I distinctly remember my first story, which was an assigned fan-fiction from my third grade teacher. She wanted us to write something and share it with the class. Me, going through a hardcore Scooby-Doo phase, wrote what was, to our young minds at least, the most enticing and innovative story since Sherlock Holmes. Looking back on it now I can do nothing more than laugh because it really was quite a pathetic short story. Nevertheless, my peers loved it and, afterwards, I had to answer questions about why I had Daphne be the bad guy and how I thought of that plot twist. I liked that feeling. The feeling of people understanding and liking something that I had created. It was nice to know that, while I couldn’t sing or act, there was something that maybe I could be good at doing, something even that I liked.

After that little Scooby-Doo fiasco I continued writing stories, mostly for myself though, never with the intent to get published. They never took off or got anywhere over 10,000 words, or even sometimes 1,000 words. But I still give little Blake some credit. The entire story was plotted almost to a tee and the determination from little Blake, looking back on it, was like watching a small cub try to chew off meat from his fathers kill.

My stories were pretty much the theme of whatever I was reading at the time. I went through a thriller phase and I can remember one story where I wrote out each of the characters and their relationship to each other. Who would die. Who would be the killer, their parents, their aunts and uncles. I actually still have that paper in my room somewhere. I also remember starting something similar to “And Then There Were None”, it was about people on a cruise ship who were getting killed one by one. That actually was one of the few that wasn’t planned out. I just knew I wanted it to have some sort of crazy ending where the main character would either die or be the killer and she didn’t even know it. Something different, something not done before.

After three or four unfinished stories, I wrote a letter, yeah, an actual letter, with paper and ink, to one of my favorite authors at the time, Frank Peretti. I asked him if it would be crazy to be a twelve-year-old writer. As encouraging as always his mail-answerer man said “of course not!” (with and exclamation mark!) and told me to keep following my dreams. So I continued writing half-books, they were more like sixteenth-books, until finally deciding that I would never get a book finished and ultimately giving up, my passion for reading fading as well. Now I don’t give up very often on anything, so this is saying massive amounts about how discouraged I was. It didn’t help that, in eighth grade I had another book writing project. I thought I did really well on it. “Morgan Pride” it was called, and yes, it had superpowers in it. Unfortunately my teacher thought it was terrible, I think the result of that project took my entire grade down a letter.

This whole thing was all during my middle school years, which were undoubtedly the worst years of my life. It started small, as most harmful things do, and eventually, due to lack of care on my teacher’s part and inattentiveness to nip it in the bud, the little teases and smart remarks became all out bullying. It ranged from verbal abuse to physical hitting, most of it right in front of the teachers. Of course they all turned a blind eye. I mean who wants to get in the middle of that, right? Bullying is a right of passage, isn’t it?

Wrong.

My high school was so much different, by “different” I mean, bigger than my middle school. Try going from a graduating class of about 50 to a class of around 1,000, just in my grade level. Almost 4,000 students total and apparently bigger than Anaheim’s Disneyland, which I still, up until graduation, had yet to visit.

This sudden increase in size closed the doors for many of the bullies to get to me. Some of them actually started trying to be my friend. Like I’d make that mistake again. But it showed me that, when you’re in a new environment, any familiar face could look like a friendly one. That being said, I was in high school now and I wasn’t going to let this be as bad as middle school. One kid actually tried starting up the same rumors but was shut down immediately by yours truly. I knew then what I wish I had known before. If you see something bad growing, stop it before it gets out of control.

I bet you’re wondering why any of this is important, but it is. The question is “Who is Blake?” While I deeply resent and despise those years of middle school where the bullies ran amok I would not be who I am today if I had not gone through those trials. If I had not been forced to pull myself up again and again, if I had not learned to fight for myself and what I believe in, I wouldn’t be me. Now I’m not saying that bullying is okay or that it creates character. Bullying does no such thing. Ever. It was not the bullying that helped me become who I am, it was my parents, it was my sisters, my friends, their love and their support helped me.

After all this bullying nonsense had gotten figured out, I started picking up more books, reading through them with a little more interest. It was at the beginning of my senior year that I started getting serious about reading again, buying books and digesting every word. It definitely helped that I found a new group of people to be with, a few friends from my elementary school that went to a different middle school. It was these friends that truly encouraged me to start reading again and it was this encouragement that helped me start writing again. I believe that my love of writing is strictly correlated with and deeply rooted to my passion for reading. The more I read, the more I write. Since my passion for reading spiked during this time, my mind started wandering to all the different possibilities of stories I could create.

During my senior year, I started writing another story, which I actually may get back to, about a girl who’s mother . . . well maybe I shouldn’t spoil it. I wrote one chapter of that and after letting someone read it, ended that story. It was then that I vowed not to let anyone read my work until it was done.

I graduated and started college at San Jose State University in the fall of 2013, which turned out to be an amazing semester with amazing people. I enrolled in what is called a Humanities Honors program, which basically combs through the entirety of human history over the course of two years, or four semesters. In reading the texts from the ancients, like Plato and Thucydides, to more modern texts, like Shakespeare and Achebe, I was mesmerized by not only their style, but their ability, mostly in the latter texts, to tell stories unlike any preceding it. It was truly beautiful and one of my most recent encouragers. It was while I was enrolled in this program, actually, that I started writing my first full-length novel, which ended up coming to a little over 90,000 words (those words are for you little Blake).

I started the manuscript during finals week in the fall semester of 2014. It was originally supposed to be something to take my mind off of the stress. The idea came to me as I was lying in bed one night and the next day I was sitting in front of my computer and thought, “why not try writing this down?” The story is young adult oriented and has the themes of friendship, bullying, depression, guilt, and above all, hope (Sorry little Blake, no super powers or murder mysteries although I fear I may have subconsciously added a small mystery within its workings).

Throughout winter break I worked tirelessly on that novel, fighting the urge to throw it all out, because I had a feeling that somewhere, someone would need to hear this story. Even if it was only my girlfriend, who would read it when I finished. So I wrote and wrote and wrote and when I was done I edited and edited and edited and now, almost six months later, it is finished and I want more than anything for an agent to pick it up and send it to a publisher.

With that being said, I was told that, if I want someone to notice me, I should start a blog. So here we are. My blog, you as the viewer. Do you like it so far? I know I pretty much I gave you my life story but I believe that every single experience defines a part of not only who we are, but who we become, and, when faced with the decision, it is so difficult to choose just a handful of facts to put on this page.

So now we come back to the question asked above, “who is Blake?”

I am a student. I am a reader. I am an aspiring writer. I am a fighter. I am a survivor. I am still a baby cub trying to bite off more than he can chew, but now I know what I’m facing and more than anything I am ready.

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