My love affair with writing began during childhood…
I was eight years old when my name was called over the loud-speaker at my school-wide assembly. I didn’t even enter the Creative Writing contest, so you can imagine the shock I experienced when I was summoned to the stage. Under the bright cafeteria lights, I still remember the sweaty palms and awkward, shaky-voiced “thank-you” as I accepted my plaque.
Apparently, my third grade teacher submitted the story. My narrative was called “A Bear Who Could Talk,” and it was about a curious little girl who wandered into the woods one evening before dinner. She encountered a young bear in the forest and immediately began to scream with terror. But the bear assured her that he was friendly, and he promised that he wouldn’t hurt her. The girl was amazed that the bear was so gentle and kind. A friendship quickly ensued, and every day after school, the girl and the bear met in the woods for play dates… that is, until one fateful day, when the young girl brought the bear home to have dinner with her family.
Want to know what happens next? Too bad, So sad (as my 3rd grade self would say).
I may turn the story into a children’s book one of these days, so I’ll keep the end a secret for now. I hope you don’t lose sleep over it 😉
By age nine, I was gifted my first journal. It was hard-bound, navy blue with pink flowers, and I loved it from the moment I laid eyes on it.
I wrote my first journal entry in big, bubbly kid letters on December 20, 1988:
Communicating with the journal as if it were a person still cracks me up. I also don’t know why Jessica’s birthday on December 24 had anything to do with the fact that she wasn’t Christian. Maybe I was feeling empathetic that she wouldn’t get to celebrate the Christmas holiday. And I can’t help but smile when I read the last sentence, “Grandma Albaum told me to be surprised when I open it.” To this day, my family is THE WORST at keeping secrets. Thanks to my journals (and subsequent role as family historian), I’m blaming this not-so-great family trait on Grandma Albaum’s influence.
Then there was my ninth grade typing class. My classmates moaned and groaned about how boring it was, but for some reason, I was in my element. I loved learning how to type proficiently. How many words could I type per minute? I consistently tried to beat my personal best. The quicker I typed, the faster I could get the thoughts out of my head and onto the page. I loved the click clacking sound of my fingers moving across the keyboard, too.
Creative Writing Poetry at the University of Florida was the absolute best, though. It was a 3-hour Monday night class, and my instructor was a young, likable man with dark, messy hair and glasses. At the end of each class, we were responsible for taking our work to Einstein’s Notes (a shop that sold cliff’s notes and also re-printed materials for classes). Then, a couple of days later, we’d pick up a bound book with everyone’s work included. Our homework was to anonymously critique each other’s writing before the next class.
When we entered the room on Monday evening, we’d sit in circle and pass the books around. We’d then tear out our page and read our classmates’ critiques. I found freedom in this process. I loved sharing my work without anyone knowing it was mine, and I was constantly surprised by the comments I received. It helped build my self-confidence as a writer (as opposed to Mr. Weston’s infamous Reporting class which did the opposite).
For the next eight years, my creative writing was mostly contained to the private pages of my journals. I worked as a Public Relations practitioner and Marketing Manager, so press releases and marketing copy became the new norm. I enjoyed that too, but creative writing will always be my true love.
No other living creature has the ability to express themselves through the written word. Writing enables us to provide a glimpse into our stream of consciousness, and I think it’s one of the most powerful things we can do, as humans.
As for the journals… well, they became my trusted allies. I have 17 of them now filled with my handwritten words. These pages house my innermost thoughts, feelings and secrets. And when life was at its absolute worst, I consistently turned to pen and paper. Suffice to say that my love affair with words saved me from myself in those dark days.
Now, as I prepare to share my story in the form of a book, the word ‘gratitude’ comes to mind. I’m grateful that I can literally turn back the pages of time. I’m grateful to have captured moments with the written word that I wouldn’t otherwise remember. I’m grateful that writing saved me from myself when I was suicidal. I’m grateful that the fear of failure is no longer preventing me from sharing my words with you.
Thank you for taking the time to read and reminisce with me.