Submitted by Centralia College
Caya Lenay started writing his memoir in May 2022. He knew he wanted to write it. He knew he had a lot of support. But, like many authors, he still struggled to actually start the project.
“When I was first thinking about writing the book, I thought it was going to be extremely difficult putting my life story on paper,” he said. “The second I started, it was like the floodgates just opened. I would sit for hours on hours just typing away, not even struggling. I thought it was going to be a boring project, but it was actually a very therapeutic experience, and it helped me process and cope with many things from my past.”
Lenay’s story is a difficult one to read. It starts from his early childhood, as far back as kindergarten, and chronicles a story of isolation, drug use, and eventual drug dealing and criminal activity. It is meant for adult readers and covers adult subjects, though Lenay was a child himself. Volume I ends when Lenay is a freshman in high school.
Lenay, 22, is a Centralia College student living at Green Hill School in Chehalis, a juvenile rehabilitation center. He is working on his bachelor’s degree in Applied Management (business) at CC and plans to start a non-profit organization committed to juvenile justice reform when he is released. While writing the book itself proved therapeutic, he has found greater connections to others since its release. He said that the reactions from readers have given his work additional meaning and importance.
“I was surprised to see how much support I have gotten from it. I have gotten a lot of feedback from people who have read it, thanking me for sharing my experiences. There are a couple of schools that have asked for copies of my book, telling me they are interested in having me come and speak to some of the kids,” he said.
Lenay also finished writing Volume II, which delves into the darkest parts of his life as a teenager and young adult.
“In book two, I go even deeper into the street life. I reach my lowest points in life, where I become completely consumed by drugs, violence, and illegal activity. It starts off right where the first book left off and ends right when I get arrested for several serious violent felonies, which would result in me receiving an 11-year prison sentence,” he described.
He plans to start Volume III when he completes his bachelor’s degree.