Netanya Joy

I’m an anomaly.

I don’t care for chocolate, cannot stand coffee, and I blast Taylor Swift when I think no one’s around. If you’ve seen stranger things, I would also sooner shut myself in the house with a book than go out to the movies or party on Friday nights like a normal college student. Top that.

I was born and raised in Philadelphia, the city known for its mouthwatering cheesesteaks and brotherly love.

Well, that’s the short version. If you want to get deep, keep scrolling.

When I was in third grade, I wanted to be a veterinarian.

That dream was replaced with another in sixth grade. After seeing the Cleopatra exhibit at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, I contemplated becoming an archaeologist. After all, history is my favorite thing after fantasy novels. Soon afterwards, however, I changed my mind a second time and decided I wanted to become a teacher (I realized this was a naïve choice halfway through high school).

None of these career options stuck.

Of course, deciding on an occupation at the age of eleven appears rather unrealistic when a tween still has years of experience and growth ahead of them. When you’re that young you want to be everything. However, I think there was another reason for all the jumping around.

I used to think writing stories wasn’t a “real job”. While I enjoyed doing it, it didn’t seem as important as being a doctor or an archaeologist. Those careers make history—those careers have an impact on humanity. Writers upset the American standards of the workplace. It’s a difficult career to begin, and even harder to maintain.

As a college student, there is still much that is uncertain. I may not end up building a career from my writing, but what I will never do is stop pursuing something that gives me joy and a purpose.

I’ve always loved stories. I grew up in the realms of Lewis, Tolkien, Grimm, and many others (for this much credit is due to my parents and relations), and there I thrived. One of my favorite memories is of my dad reading The Hobbit to my siblings and I around the campfire, in the Misty Mountains of Pennsylvania. In school, I wrote poems and short stories, sometimes as a class assignment but mostly for fun. In seventh grade, I discovered the seed to a story idea I could make my own.

I began writing the book when I was twelve. I did not know how long it would be, or if it would be the first of a series, or if I would ever finish. All I knew was I had a concept in my mind screaming for release from its dark, chaotic prison—aka my mind. For a writer, there’s nothing more irritating or distracting than a story that refuses to go away.

So I wrote.

I outlined.

I researched.

And wrote some more.


It’s an ongoing process that continues today. See, as a kid in the seventh grade I was not—and still am not—too organized, so the story came out in bits and pieces. Furthermore, it seemed just as I was beginning this endeavor I was moving on to high school, where both the workload and the people are demanding. I wrote when I could, but receiving a private education is a double-edged sword. If you want to do well, you have to sacrifice much of what you love the most.

You know what they say—c’est la vie. A major part of the writing process is purposefully finding time to actually do the writing. While much of my time was occupied by 8+ page papers and quadratic equations that refused to solve themselves, I never forgot the world growing in my mind. I could have abandoned my project, but if a story holds on to you for seven years I have the highest of doubts it will let go any time soon.

I’m still writing. One day I will finish my story, regardless of whether someone wants to publish it or not. That’s all a writer can do, isn’t it? A writer writes not because it’s easy, or because they will gain something from it, but because someone in the big, bad world needs to hear what they have to say.

Even if that someone is only themself.