My best friend Emily were probably in fifth grade when we decided we were going to write a mystery novel. I'm not sure why, and it's likely that the remnants of our imagination are still lying somewhere around her childhood home in Roswell, Georgia, but I believe the entire story was sparked by an antique key from her mom's guest room. That was, apparently, all we needed to concoct our story, of which I can recall zero details. Though it seems plausible that it had a veryNancy Drew-esque feel, with big wooden mansions and a blonde protagonist peering around hidden corners for clues. We scribbled down details in the middle of the night - way past our bedtime - and I'm not even sure that we ever picked it up again.
When I was in middle school, my English teacher Mrs. Carriker told us all about the dust bowl, and we were told to write fictional stories with this historical background as the setting. Mrs. Carriker was a loud woman. She had bright red hair that added about five inches of width around her face on each side and I'm fairly certain her wardrobe was exclusively long, leopard print dresses. I remember her kindly, with a smile that said she actually enjoyed teaching rowdy, pubescent tweens. When she told us about the dust bowl, I was captured. I always liked hearing stories like these, about a time that seems so far away but in reality, I could reach out and touch with my own hands if I wanted. I was fascinated by the dust bowl in the same way I was fascinated by the story of the Titanic. It was tragic, of course, but I wanted to soak myself in the details and know every story and every reason it all went wrong. I romanticized it, of course, but you can blame Leonardo Dicaprio for that. And so I wrote a story about a small farming family with a newborn baby I'm sure it was sweet and detailed, and they all actually died in the end. I'm not sure about my classmates, because it's hard to remember, but I don't think many of their stories resulted in this. In retrospect, I suppose this is a little more morbid for a sixth grader. But I would also like to commend my past self for her stern grip on the realities of life and death in the midst of natural disaster. What can I say? I was pessimistic even as a kid.
All throughout high school, I always had some kind of document on my computer labeled "book" or "chapter 2." Once an idea sparked, I would stay up for hours in the night typing quickly and quietly about a character that, more often than not, was not very different from myself. I wanted to write about what it was like to fall in love, or out of it, and I would be lying if I said I never dabbled in fan fiction. Which, trust me, has long since been erased. But please never try and find it because I'm scared of the dark net.
I wrote my first, and to date only, play in college. I was a sophomore and I figured I could work writing into whatever advertising career I picked, so I briefly chose a writing minor and happily signed up for this class. I remember feeling rushed at the end and I couldn't decide what I wanted my final piece to be, the one that would be performed in a mini festival for anyone and everyone to come to. But I had an idea in my head. I wondered what someone's favorite song said about them, and while that ended up being just a single line in the story, I ended up using one of my favorite song's - Jason Mraz's "Details In The Fabric" - as background music. The play, still saved on my computer, is called Call Me Back and as I'm writing this post, I'm going back to read it for the first time in two and a half years (side note - wow, college goes by quickly.) Call Me Back is about a girl leaving voicemails for her (spoiler alert) dead boyfriend. As I read it now, I want to roll my eyes at how utterly dramatic it is. I can tell I just kind of spilled my words onto the page, and you can see the obvious influence from one of my favorite musicals, Next to Normal. I know why I haven't looked at these pages since it was performed, though I suppose it's not bad really. It just shows where I was at when I was nineteen and wondering what it'd be like to love and lose someone so fiercely.
And then I had to write about my life. I had spent the summer before my senior year reading Donald Miller's To Own A Dragon: Reflections on Growing Up Without A Father and A Million Miles in A Thousand Years, and the two inspired me to take a writing non-fiction class. I wrote about growing up without a lot of money and refugees in Syria. But my final piece revolved around a song that, in the beginning of my junior year, made my life and thoughts turn from a dark and scary place to a more hopeful one. It's a story I don't like telling because it means I have to admit that yes, I drank and even smoked a couple times in college and uh huh, I should not have gotten involved with that guy. Or that guy. But telling the story about those couple months a year prior where I was questioning who I was and who I wanted to be also meant telling the story of what came after, and letting the lyrics of Colony House's "Won't Give Up" guide my me into what it's like to start over and forgive yourself. And when the class read that first draft in workshop and I tapped nervously and averted my eyes from my professor, I felt immense relief simply from the act of sharing this incredibly complicated piece of myself.
I have more journals than I can count. Most of them half finished before I would stop wiring and then decide a year later that I needed to pen my life again. When I go too long without writing in my journals, I begin to feel anxious and tense, but all it takes is five minutes alone writing about my day to untangle those feelings. I've kept a blog on and off for years, and I even brought The Odyssey Online to Lee's campus a couple years ago. I'd like to apologize for that last one, that didn't really go well, and I'm fairly certain it's died off now.
I've spent my life writing. I haven't always excelled at it and I'm not always consistent, but it's weirdly been the one thing that I've always done. Habits and hobbies have come and gone and faded away almost as quickly as they began, but writing? Even if I look back on it two years later and laugh at my own personal drama that spilled onto the innocent pages of some horrible blog post, it's still there. All that to say, welcome to my blog. I can't promise it will be life changing and I can't promise I'll post every Tuesday at 3pm on the dot, but I can promise that you'll hear from me again. I promise I'll write.
P.S. I also can't promise that I'll be able to find that mystery novel in Emily's house, but who knows. Life is full of surprises.