Before I could write, I loved to tell stories. I told stories to anyone who would listen. I loved to listen to other people’s stories too. I was a master eavesdropper by the time I was four. I loved the warp and weft of the words people told. It seemed like pure genius. Words came together and made people laugh, surprised them, and sometimes made them cry. Words were a way for me to express my emotions, and I had so many emotions rushing at me when I was a child. The way I managed them was to write. The way I could understand my world was to write. The way to make order and feel safe was to write.
As soon as I could hold a pencil in my hand, I drew stories and then eventually began to write. I wrote all the names of the people in my family, made lists of all my stuffed animals, wrote poems, and then wrote stories about everything and everyone. I never ran out of ideas. I always had something to say. If I wasn’t writing, I wasn’t thinking; I wasn’t living. But I was an undisciplined writer. I wrote sporadically as if some kind of divine intervention had to happen. The poem would just plunk itself down from the sky. And I would be satisfied for a week or so until another poem would fly in from the open window. I have boxes and boxes of half-written in journals. Throughout my school experience, I was praised as a writer. It was a place where I could shine. I never felt afraid when I was writing. I had some success at having some poems and articles published through the years.
However, it wasn’t until two years ago, when Ruth Ayres invited me to join SOS: Sharing our Stories that I began to write consistently. I would post every week and that was so good for me. I read other bloggers and began to make connections. Last year, I came across Stacey Shubitz’s TWT: Slice of Life March Challenge. And honestly I thought, “Are they crazy? I can’t write every day!” So, I tried but I only posted 5 or 6 times. I wondered, “How on earth could anyone write every day? Didn’t they know I was busy?”
This year, something changed. I got rid of “busy” and started to focus on what is most important to me. When this year’s SOL Challenge came, I was ready. I set my invention to sit and write every day. I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I did. I learned so much from this experience. I created pieces that would never have been written because I wrote every single day. I plan to keep this up past March. I don’t think I will post every day, but I will certainly write every day.
I am so grateful to Ruth Ayres and Stacey Shubitz for providing platforms where teacher-writers can share their work. I’ve learned so much from them and so much from fellow bloggers. I love connecting with people who share my passion for the pen (pencil, keyboard) – for the wild, poignant stories.
I wrote a poem years ago as part of a poetry novel I hope to finish this year, since I think I’ve finally made a break through with my battle with consistency. It expresses how much writing is a part of my life. I don’t know how people get through the day without reading, writing, or art. It doesn’t seem possible to me.
Like Breathing When we are alone, My mother hands me a present Wrapped in brilliant blue. I rip it open to reveal A brand-new journal. It’s suede, the color of new earth, It smells of earth too, comforting, Tied together with strong leather strings And small brass beads. I look up at my mother to thank her, She puts one arm around my shoulder, Holds me close and whispers, “Just keep writing - Just keep writing,” she says. But she does not say it Like my teachers would, Not just keep writing because I have to, It’s an assignment – I will be graded. Punctuation counts, spelling counts, Not just keep writing – like it’s good for me, Like it’s medicine or spinach - But just keep writing because it’s part of me, Like breathing in air and exhaling, Because it keeps me alive, Because it connects me to the world, Because it keeps me sane It is my life – I need to live it, My feelings count, Memories count.