When I was a kid, I had one of those silly little diaries. You know the ones. It was pink and had a lock on it with a tiny, silver key. For whatever reason, that made it feel safe to write away your fears, your dreams, and your thoughts without someone invading your privacy.
I would go on to fill up so many diaries in my youth. I’d write about my days in way too much detail, and I remember reading back through them when I was in high school. Talk about cringing. Those ended up making their way to the garbage can.
It could have been my senior year of high school, or maybe the year after, but I remember this one particular journal I had. It was blue and shaped like a crescent moon. Oh, I wrote all of my heartaches and dreams in that thing. Those were the first days I would attempt to write songs. For some reason, it just never panned out and I’m sure it was because I used too many words again.
As the years went on, I found myself writing my way through life. If I had a bad day, I’d write until it didn’t hurt as much. If I had a good day, I’d write about it to relive it. If I couldn’t decide which fork in the road to take, well, I’d write until it was an extended version of a pro/con list.
Then one day, I stopped writing. I threw every journal I’d ever had into the garbage can.
I didn’t realize what a hole that left in me until I started again a few years ago. It wasn’t that I was necessarily good at it, it was just that “Writing is deeper than therapy.” Funny story because I stopped writing…and now I’m in therapy. So, there’s that cautionary tale for you, and it’s free.
I had a blog many years ago, in the thick of some insane, confusing heartbreak, and that helped. But once I thought I was stronger and back on my feet, I let it fall away. Then, I had another blog that was only for sharing photo shoots, but somewhere along the way, my words dried up.
Late one night, in the summer of 2020, I sat down on my couch and opened my laptop. I somehow managed to write out a first draft of chapter one…of my first book. The way I looked at it, if songwriting was too hard for me because I had too many words, why not write a novel? I guess you could say I had words that had been stuck for way too long, and they were in desperate need of a place to go.
The next time I sat down to attempt to write the second chapter, I had every feeling in the world. I felt stupid for even thinking I could, or should, write that book. Imposter syndrome was in full force. Luckily, I am no stranger to that feeling.
As I sat there, feeling all my reasons why I should not write it, I received a text. After that conversation, any doubts I had fell away and chapter two wrote itself as tears made their way down my cheeks.
Well, I made it roughly to chapter fourteen of that book before life yanked the rug out from under me…again…and I had to put it aside.
Thankfully, just as with my photography, I have had a lot of encouragement to keep going. My friend, Brooke, gave me a list of books to read to help steer me in the right direction when it came to writing. One of those books was “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg. I haven’t quite finished yet, but I have really enjoyed reading it.
What I have discovered is that writing is how I process the things life throws at me. If I can write everything down, it is no longer lost inside of me. If I can get it out, I can see all the puzzle pieces laid out before me and only then can I make rational decisions. I’m not going to lie, therapy is great, but writing is a part of me. Without it, I am afraid I just go in circles, lost.
I was having a conversation earlier today about how when you get hurt, there’s that before and after everyone talks about. But I said that at least I lived. I didn’t die of a broken heart; I didn’t die on impact.
That somehow led our conversation to an asteroid hitting the earth and wiping out the dinosaurs. One day I will be gone, but it’s not today. Today, I want to write. I want to write in my journals, or whatever random spiral-bound notebook is closest to me in the moment. It doesn’t matter that my brain goes faster than my hand can write, I’ll just try to keep up. I want to attempt to write songs again.
I want to finish my book.
Then who knows, I may keep going and write more. Either way, I don’t think I’ll be throwing any of these words away. After all, words left behind are no different than the photographs we leave behind…they are a part of how our time here is fossilized.