When my son’s ex-future-mother-in-law (that’s a story for another time) found out that I had a book getting published, she turned to her mother and said, “Maybe I’ll do that when I’m not working full time.” She didn’t say “Congratulations!” or “What’s it about?” She just implied that anyone could write and get published. At least, that’s the way I took the comment.
But then I started rethinking my knee-jerk reaction to her rather rude statement, turning it around to look for a positive spin. And I’ve come to the conclusion that yes, everyone can write; they just don’t all want or need to get published.
For example, look at all the day planners and date books office supply stores sell. All of those items need to be written in. Of course, you can just write “10:30—hair appointment.” Many people do. But some people embellish. They may write down what color they want their hair, or maybe how late the stylist was in taking them for their appointment the last time. They may write little reminders, like “Go to bank,” or “pick up trash bags.” These are all rudimentary forms of writing.
Next we have journals. In these people write their deepest thoughts and secrets. What makes them angry, what makes them happy. They can use journals to let off steam. A journal becomes a friend that won’t disclose your deepest secrets. Unless it falls into the hands of someone else, of course. A journal can help you find that inner calm, or help you organize your thoughts before a big confrontation, be it for work or for romance. A way of sounding off without the lasting effects.
This also goes for diaries. In a diary you can soul search like in a journal, or you can simply write down what happened or what you did each day. There are no rules. The year I turned twenty-one, I kept a short diary. I jotted down what I did each day, who I dated, where I went, what I studied.
Flash forward ten years. I was a new mother, transferring from being a full-time teacher to a stay-at-home mom. One day I found the little book when I was going through my dresser drawers. I sat down right where I was and began reading, and was quickly transported back to my younger, more carefree self. The time when all I had to think about was myself: my education, my job, and my social life. No one depended on me.
I read about being in my fourth year of college. I read about who I dated, and when. I was engrossed. Good thing my baby was taking a nap! I don’t know if I would have heard him cry, I was so absorbed with reliving my past. I read about meeting my husband by joining a girlfriend’s bowling league. I’d come off a failed, long-term relationship, and wasn’t looking for a boyfriend. Wow, was I wrong!
I spent several partial days reading through that year, and I still own that little book. I haven’t read it in a while. Perhaps I will again. It came at a good time for me, showing me how far I’d come in the ensuing ten years. I felt better for my choices.
The point I’m trying to make is this: anyone can write, and should. Not only is it a way to recall the important events of each day, it is a form of catharsis. It helps you remember your past, while linking your present to your future. It grants you the ability to explore your emotions without hurting someone else’s feelings. It is a route to self-discovery that, once started, may surprise you with the results.
Go on now. Pick up that pen or pencil. Grab that book that has been sitting empty in your dresser drawer for who knows how long and start putting your thoughts on paper. It doesn’t have to be long. It doesn’t have to be grammatically correct.
It just has to be you.