I joined E2 just about a month ago at one of the lowest points in my life. I was depressed, physically and mentally exhausted, and unsure of what to do with my life. I had spent five years working toward a degree that I was no longer sure that I wanted. I thought that the one person in my life that I have truly loved with every iota of my being was leaving me. And to top it all off, I opened my mailbox that day and got a rejection letter for a piece of writing that I had literally poured my heart into.
You see, every since I was a little boy, sitting in kindergarten with a huge notebook full of blank pages in front of me, I have dreamed of being a writer. I fill entire journals and notebooks, both electronic and otherwise, with my scribbles and thoughts and ruminations. I churn out a short story almost every week and something of novella or novel length every two or three months. I throw myself deeply into school and work assignments that involve writing reports. Writing is my passion, it fills the empty moments of my life with a way of expressing myself that I believe, in my innermost heart, that I have a gift at.
Writing isn't the career path I have chosen; I also have a deep love for computer programming. Writing is my outlet, the way I can release what I feel inside me; programming is what I'm good at, it is my way of creating something functionally useful as well as beautiful. But that's another story...
I sat down in front of my computer on that evening, feeling at my lowest point in many years. I had discovered this site in the previous few months and had been lurking here, learning about it. I'd been enjoying some of the writings of a few users here, and while I was sitting there reading Templeton's freshly-written daylog, I suddenly decided that I would join. I signed up and wrote a short bit about Nanaloricus mysticus, a species that had inspired a piece of fiction I had written a few weeks earlier.
And then I trudged off to bed. I fell asleep that night in tears, holding my rejection notice in my hand, not really caring whether I woke up the next morning or not. I mean that literally; I took a significant amount of Nyquil before I fell in bed, and for those that know me, that is no minor matter at all.
Over the next couple of days, I logged on a few times and wrote a few minor factual things. And then September 11 rolled around, a day of deep confusion and pain for just about everyone. I came home from work, full of pain and sadness and confusion. I found the rejection letter, still in my bedsheets. Full of anger and hatred and sadness about how my life felt like it was falling apart at the seams, I picked up the letter, crumpled it up, and threw it as hard as I could at the far wall of my room. It didn't make me feel any better.
As the week rolled on, I started writing more and more here. After I got my rejection letter, I had taken on sort of a fear of writing fiction, so I instead focused on writing about things that I factually knew. And they were being received well. People like wharfinger and dem bones wrote me notes about them, complimenting me on them. Random people that had no reason to read my stuff, let alone bother to personally write me and say that they liked it, were going out of their way to compliment me.
On the 23rd of September, I woke up from my slumber to find a note from my significant other. Our relationship had been rather strained for a little while, but the contents of that note filled my heart with a joy that hadn't been there in a long time. It said, "Nice writing, keep it up" and that's all. What she had read, to this day I don't have an idea, but it gave me the courage to write something fictitious again.
I wrote Somebody Set Us Up on a cold Sunday afternoon in Iowa. It was hard to write, and the ending of it turned out to be as desolate as I was feeling when I wrote it. My fiction reflects the way I feel at any moment. But I needed to write it; putting the words that describe another world down on paper brings me a feeling that I can't possibly describe. It wasn't my best work (by far), but it meant something to me. It was a breakthrough. I quietly decided to drop the story off on E2, and it got an extremely positive reaction. Some of the comments that I received from other users on that single story brought a degree of happiness and hope into my outlook on my writing and, in a fashion, my life that I can't describe.
Since I've came here, and especially since I wrote that piece, I've received compliments on things I've written here that have meant a lot. People here somehow come through when I need a confidence boost. They know how to put a smile on my face, how to make me think, and how to make me shed a tear. E2 has helped me to believe in myself again, and that belief in myself has helped me to patch things up in my life. I've spent a few wonderful evenings with a wonderful woman that I was afraid that I was going to lose. I realized the things that really matter in my life. And perhaps most important of all (at least to me), I've learned to write again in a way that isn't just a retelling of facts.
This morning, I found the rejection letter laying underneath my bed in a crumpled ball, the writing blurry from my tears upon it. I picked it up and unfolded it slowly, recognizing it for what it is: an artifact of a time in my life that is slowly fading away. I put it up in a prominent place on my desk, to remind myself how much random people you likely will never meet really can change your life.
E2 isn't just a database. E2 is people. And that's why it's great. And that's why it saved my life.