There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed ~ Ernest Hemingway
I have always had a thing for words. A love affair really. When I was six or seven years old, we lived on a mountain surrounded by 10 acres of trees. After my morning cartoons, the television was turned off and I was told to “go and play”. Often I would go exploring with my dog, Tex, he was great at sniffing out the fairies and the pixies and the elves. Or I would attend my classroom and library, assigning grades to all of my students on my chalk board and signing out books. Every single book in my room had a library card in it and a number mimicked after the Dewey Decimal system, although I can assure you it was in fact not the Dewey Decimal system. And other times, I would complete “research” and write “research papers”. I would find an encyclopedia on a topic that interested me, dinosaurs, cats, dogs, Egypt, and I would take notes and draw pictures and put it all together in a “research paper”. Of course at seven years old this was merely all of the lines in the book written exactly as they appeared but perhaps slightly rearranged. This is, in fact, called plagiarism, but at seven it was referred to as cute.
I learned to type on a typewriter. It was painful at first. I used two fingers to bang on the keys and put sentences on my paper. If I made a mistake, I would need the liquid paper and then figure out how to line up the line with the keys exactly. I still recall when the “new” typewriters came with white out tape built in and I could make my mistakes disappear. Although I had to learn how to type, for school, and admittedly, I loved the smell of the ink on the page as it was pressed into the paper, my preference was for a pen and paper. Writing my words in cursive. I always kept a diary and would pour everything out onto those pages. My writing always starting out looping, flowing and beautiful, then changing into scratches as my hand got sore and cramped. I wrote poetry in high school and worked for the school newspaper. I was torn between journalism and creative writing, but one thing I was not confused about was my love of words and using the written language to weave a spell, to create texture and an imaginative picture that was clear and rich and romantic for the mind’s eye.
In high school writing class, my teacher had a way of inspiring me and drawing out my inner thoughts and feelings that has remained unmatched in all the years between then and now. I poured my heart and soul out onto the page, taking what seeped out of my pen and rearranging the concepts, notions and intentions into a harmonized narrative.
Shortly after high school, I stopped writing poetry, I stopped working for the university newspaper, I stopped being inspired. I continued to maintain a diary, although as a young adult, it was now referred to as a journal. It was the safest place I could let my thoughts and feelings flow. Where I could sort out my beliefs, my needs, my boundaries, essentially my core being, free of judgement, without a need to defend or explain. Several people during the course of my adult life have felt they had the right to read those thoughts, to open up my journal and freely consume my innermost core without permission, without consent and without my initial knowledge. But I always knew, eventually. There was no greater violation. I stopped it all. The writing ceased, the ink dried out in my pen and my pages remained empty. Yet I still identified, in my soul, as a Writer.
I did not pursue creative writing. I did not pursue journalism. I believe the pain and intense vulnerability of such exposure was too much for my younger, immature and insecure self. I turned to science, to biology, to black and white. But The Writer inside was merely dormant, not deceased. In recent years, I have worked hard to get to know me, my beliefs, my values, and to find strength and love and security internally rather than externally. In doing this work, I have woken The Writer up. I have found a new love and appreciation not only for words, but for the act and art of writing. The relationship is still new, and the expectations are still being discussed, but the future looks promising, and I believe this relationship will last my lifetime.
The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe ~ Gustave Flaubert