I was preparing work for an residency application recently. To do so, I gathered up some of my journals and spent time walking myself down memory lane. I leafed through pages of drafts of poems, words and phrases I couldn’t let go of, entries simply dedicated to gratitude interspersed with prayers asking God to save me in the midst of my most trying periods of anxiety and short stories created in my evening writing classes.
As I read, I realized I was going through more than whatever poured from me at the time, more than memories.
I was going through evidence.
Evidence that proved I didn’t want to keep it bottled up inside. Evidence that I have been broken, grateful, loving, miserable, joyous, creative, funny, scared, unapologetic, selfish, giving, a conduit for characters I didn’t know needed to exist, lazy, sexy, prideful, hard-working.
I was thinking recently about the first time I thought I about being a writer. I was around 10 years old. I still have one of my first old notebooks with abandoned attempts of short stories in a box somewhere. One of the stories was about an 11-year old girl named Stephanie who was spending her first Christmas after her parents’ divorce with her father and younger brother. The notebook had multi-colored tabs and I divided my work into ideas, first drafts and final drafts. I was also gifted multi-colored retractable pens. I still remember the glee I felt pushing one color down and watching a new hue pop up each time. The first draft of my Stephanie story was written in a teal cursive.
What I remember most fondly is how I thought this was the beginning and I couldn’t wait to publish my own series of books like Ann M. Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club books and be an acclaimed teen author. I love that I had dreams as a child. One of the most precious things about a child is their innocence. I was allowed to have mine. I had parents who bought me books and notebooks and colorful pens and never once made me feel silly about writing my stories.
They were my treasures. Mine to have. Mine to hold. Mine to keep.