I was in the 2nd grade when I met the reality of my life as a writer. My memory is a little cloudy concerning the particulars of this day, so please forgive my attempt to recall. I believe we were presented with the opportunity to write a story. I remember illustrating a picture and writing maybe, a one-page story. Out teacher either gave us the option to enter this state-wide competition or I chose to, however, myself and one classmate, who I was also very good friends with at the time, were allowed to go to the state capital, Montgomery, with other writers from our school for a young author’s competition.
I remember sitting nervously on the bus because my mother was not able to chaperone; yet so excited because of the magnitude of such an opportunity. My friend and her mom were in the seats behind me and I turned around to her to discuss our stories and what we might experience that day. I had never visited the state capitol so this was a big deal in my 8-year-old world. I felt so important! Before the bus departed, I pulled out a small military/army green notebook my mom gave me. The word “journal” was written diagonally across the cover in cursive, gold letters. She instructed me to write down all I could from that day. She said I need to start writing down my experiences so I can recall them when I got older. She stood on the sidewalk waving goodbye as the bus pulled off. Other details I remember from that trip were seeing the capitol building, going to a the site of the competition and seeing so many other young writers. I think we got to listen to an author speak and received a signed copy of a his/her Caldecott book. I remember writing a few sentences on the 1st page of my journal because I really did not know what I needed to capture. I have no idea where that book could be and I think that journal is long gone; however, I never stopped writing.
It was not about the competition; although, this post reminds me of the dream I gained that day of writing my own Caldecott-winning book. My writing has always been about me. My mom and that journal is what I draw from today because it sparked something in me that I have not be able to shake in almost 30 years. I have kept a journal off and on since then. I have a few distinct memories of writing while in undergrad. My sophomore year of college: my roommate journalled almost every day. We shared the inconsistency of our writing habits. Yet, seeing her write each night inspired me to fill the pages of my journal. My senior year: I had excitedly had to complete a 20-page research paper. I lost sleep and almost lost my paper but I loved the research and the stress of writing the most I had ever written.
I did not gain confidence I needed until last year when I earned my 2nd bachelor’s degree in English. I actually graduated Cum Laude – unbelievable! One of my professors praised my writing on a paper that I felt like I just could not bring together. I think I may have cried but I know I took a picture of that comment and sent it to my mentor. At that point, I was starting to break and question this decision but it was then I felt validated. Completing this degree pushed me aggressively pursue a childhood dream, even though I went from desiring to be a model, teacher, doctor and lawyer. I remember writing each of these professions in a journal around 4th or 5th grade. I thought I could be all 4 at some point in my life. But writing is something that I have never been able to stop doing. My mom told me that I read and write more than anything so it did not surprise her (I need to beef up on my reading, recommendations are welcome) that I made this choice. That was a surreal yet substantial moment because I did not think my mom knew or paid attention to how much I wrote but I guess a mother truly does always know!
Since becoming an adult, I write to pray; to release frustrations; to express joys; to plan for the future; to share my love; to seek interpretation for my dreams; or to seal in words heard while in church. I read this quote today by George Orwell, “[You write out of the] desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, etc., etc., etc., It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive and a strong one.” I can admit that I want to be remembered for the words I pen and not so much for the ones I speak. My friends know that when I care enough to send the very best, it will always be in a card, email or letter. One of my most beloved and oldest friends became spoiled by my words. Imagine that! From our 24th or 25th birthday until our 34th birthday, I think, I would pen a letter to her. My birthday in July and hers in November so whatever pearls of wisdom I gained in those 4 months, I would share with her. What was cathartic for me, motivated her.
Anything that I cannot verbally or physically express comes through the words I write. Words have power and create permanence. I write because I can.
Give Love. Get Love.
Psalm 45:1 NIV Beautiful words stir my heart.
I will recite a lovely poem about the king,
for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet.