This week I was a guest blogger for CreateWriteNow.com with my piece The Path of Journaling. Their focus is journaling in the many forms it takes, and I’ve journaled in one way or another for most of my life. This blog right here is a new iteration of journaling for me. When the chance to write something for CreateWriteNow came along, I took it. But first, I worked through my initial knee jerk reaction of “no, I can’t” because I’ve set a goal of saying YES when opportunities come along. That NO is a problematic muscle memory to retrain. Once I gathered myself, I responded yes to Mari, the nice woman who runs the site, and asked questions I hoped sounded smart and like I knew what I was doing.
I’m not a fast writer, the fact that I get these out every week shocks me. Mostly, I feel as if I’m talking to the page here, and the page is one place I’ve never felt judged or fear. My essays and stories take me forever after I work all day and try to have a life. I’m not mad at the time it takes, working hard is fine by me, but I am one of those people who agonizes over each word and phrase. As I talk about in the guest blog, I’m also dyslexic. I’ll write more about that at some point. I’ve appreciated the people who have read the piece and gotten in touch with me because they have a loved one or friend who has dyslexia. This fast writing is freeing for my dyslexic self because I’m attempting not to be perfect, and I’m allowing myself some vulnerability in the process.
With that said, being on someone else’s site, I wanted to do a good job, and I needed help. Some friends stepped up to the plate and gave me fast edits. Like overnight fast edits, which is nuts right now and much appreciated. I know I’m struggling to remember what day of the week it is, so their quick turnaround was huge. As a trained community organizer of 20 years (yup, that’s one of my many acquired skills), networking and relationships are the keys to everything. That too will be a blog on its own some time. I know I can’t achieve what I want inside of a bubble. Being able to reach out to people and ask for help is everything.
It took more time than I expected to write the piece. I had no idea how intertwined my life is with my journals. It took several long-handwritten drafts to select the parts I would include and what to leave out. I’m not a prolific journaler like David Sedaris. He’s even published collections of excerpts from his journals. For me, they’ve been my path to having a voice when I couldn’t say something out loud or express what I needed. It took work to narrow that experience down for a short essay.
I’m glad I wrote the piece. It was a challenge. It made me think outside of our current lockdown and the pandemic. It gave me time to reflect on a part of my life I’ve taken for granted. It also allowed me to say YES to something new. The writing programs I applied for this summer are closing left and right, which means less travel, less meeting new peoples, less writing experiences. So I’m continuing to look for the yeses and opportunities where I can. I’m always open to ideas, even if I have to manage my knee jerk no before I can respond.
People have been sharing their journaling experiences with me, and I love it. One person shared that she has been writing letters to her mother, who passed, during this stressful time. I thought this was a great idea. If you’re not someone who journals, write a letter, even if you don’t send it. You might be surprised at what happens.
*****As always, please continue to support small and local businesses if you can. They are the hearts of our communities. Also, please take on the 5-minute initiative. Check-in with a friend, a relative, or a neighbor for 5 minutes every day. Especially those who live alone*****