Writer All Grown Up: Personal Evolutions of Writing
June 1, 2012 § Leave a comment
Do you ever worry you’ve lost your skill, your voice, that tone in your writing that sets you apart? Have you ever drowned in a sea of insecurity, that whirlwind of terror of the I’m-not-good-enough and I’ll-never-do-it variety?
The other night I was going through a box of childhood memories beneath my bed. Keep-it boxes, we call them in my house. You know, art projects from kindergarten and a lot of Lisa Frank diaries, complete with bejeweled lock and key. My sisters have one keep-it box each. I have three. It used to drive my mother crazy. More than once she’d march me into my bedroom, pull open the closet door, and demand I throw away at least some of the (admittedly useless) trinkets overflowing from my treasured boxes. My tantrums, however, always forced her to relent, and the boxes stayed, even growing in size up until I left for college.
Last night while digging through one particular keep-it box, I unearthed a white binder, a project from the fifth grade. I instantly gasped aloud and started rifling through the pages, through poems and stories and (pretty poor) accompanying illustrations. A collection of creative writing by my eleven-year-old self. I couldn’t help tearing up as memory caught up with the words in front of me…that Halloween story about the evil acorn that comes alive and brings two unlikely friends together, the Memorial day poem that won a contest, that I read in front of the whole middle school without messing up once…oh, and all the unnecessary things I had added, like a title page, dedication, and “About the Author.” I laughed when I saw that my little self had even gone to the trouble to make up an ISBN number.
And there I sat, an almost-twenty year old adult who had learned so much, who was so much more awake, so much more whole than the confused little eleven-year old who had written these stories so long ago. And I thought, you’d never know all that went on in that little head. All the pain and loneliness. The almost constant desperateness. When I wrote, all that went away. It was so easy for me. My younger writer was unrestrained by self-doubt, by lack of ideas, by an addiction to Facebook. I wrote and I was happy. And that was saying a lot for Younger Me, the one defined by Sadness.
And now things are different, in almost every way. Now I am not defined by Sadness. Now I have a Facebook account. Now sometimes I experience agonizing, crippling self-doubt. Now I write about different things, in different ways. More pieces and less short stories.
There was a time when looking at these old stories would have upset me. It would have reminded me of the Bad Time. And, it would remind me of what I so obsessively believed I had lost. An ability. A drive. To write. Of course, that was during another Bad Time. A Bad Time that lasted years. A Bad Time that almost killed me. A Bad Time when I didn’t so much as lift a pen.
But now, looking at “Monster in Midden,” “A Sunset Evening Swim,” and “The Forever Evers,” I could see, see so clearly that beating soul. My soul. A soul that did not make it through those years unscathed, but was wiser. And at the same time, was still a child. A soul that could still say, Your Purpose is Still Here. You are Still Here. A soul to which I finally listened, gave respect.
And so, while my writing style will change, while even my passion for writing will come in fits and spurts, my identity as Writer is constant. Evolution occurs, but some things will never go away, though they grow and change.
They are the things we must hold on to and make our own.
That’s what I thought about as I returned the little white binder to its designated keep-it box beneath my bed. And I almost felt myself whispering a promise to that eleven-year-old girl in my mind. I won’t Forget You. I won’t Forget What You Can Do. And I’ll Do It. Do It All.