Starting Over

I haven’t been updating the blog much for one simple reason: I am revamping my whole writing process. It’s very difficult to keep producing content at the same time as relearning how to do so. I used to just sit down and write whatever came to mind. This led to posts that were filled with random thoughts without structure, development, analysis, theses, or conclusions. I’m flattered that so many people have taken a liking to these raw writings.

I thought I graduated high school when I was 18. We took pictures in the backyard, threw a graduation party, and my parents gave a speech in front of our friends. They handed me a “diploma” – a blank sheet of paper with the promise that I’d get a real one soon. A few months later, I downloaded a transcript template online and gave myself grades I didn’t really understand. My parents signed it, and I submitted it to a local university as proof of my high school graduation. Last summer I posted that transcript online and hundreds of people were shocked to see it.

It would take ten years for me to realize that I had not actually finished high school. I didn’t study core subjects at all. Instead, my parents believed that it was sufficient that I learn how to compete in conservative Christian homeschool speech and debate. My primary job was to supervise and help educate my younger siblings. I did read books, but I mostly had to hide in various secret places to steal time for myself. I often begged my parents to teach me, and they’d half-heartedly assign little projects, but it was never consistent. My main objective was to become a wife and mother, so it was more important that I learn how to change a lot of diapers.

I’m almost 30, but I’ve just started an online program to go back and finish high school. After many years of bitterness, I’ve finally realized that it’s never too late to admit my education was inadequate and take steps to remedy that. For years I’ve complained that I didn’t know what I was doing when I went to college. Last year I realized that this was because I needed to go further back. I couldn’t make it through college chemistry because I hadn’t done preliminary math subjects beforehand, like Algebra and Geometry.

Reading and writing were early interests of mine. I was trying to identify letters and numbers as soon as I could talk. I was learning how to sound out words by age 4. I feel a twinge of survivor’s guilt whenever I say this because I learned to read so easily, my parents assumed that the other kids would pick it up on their own, too. That didn’t happen, and years late they had a handful of teenagers who still struggled to sound out words. People often ask how I managed to become a writer with so little education. The simple answer is that writing came naturally to me. While I can write with emotion, my sentences sprawl and my structure is nonexistent.

In the second week of January this year, I started high school online through my local community college. So far I’ve completed my first course, an introduction to researching career pathways. Now I’m working on an essay that will analyze how much of my work history can be applied to high school credits. The quarter will close out at the end of March, and I’m already registered to pick my studies back up in April for the Spring Quarter.

This year has been about starting over. I have more opportunities than I thought for a long time. I have to start from the beginning, and spend as much time as it takes to cover the basics. My instructor estimates I will finish high school in about a year. It’s a self-paced course so I can take as long as I need and I’m not setting a hard graduation date yet.

In my pathways course, I learned that it’s incredibly rare for undereducated people to make it as writers. About 63% of writers are self-employed. Only 1% of writers didn’t finish high school. Pursuing better education will improve my writing skills and prospects. I’m so grateful that I have the freedom to study and work from home. With proper education, I can produce far better essays.

Final note: soon I will be changing my name to Artemis Stardust. When I do, I will launch a new site and update my profiles across the internet to reflect this. My partner and I are running a fundraiser to get our names changed – read more about it here!