When I was in elementary school, we had a writing contest every year. I wrote stories, bound then in a hard bound book and submitted them. For four years, I won my school’s writing contest and became better and better in the writing process. As a winner in my district, I got to attend a writing conference where I remember hearing Judy Blume, Lois Lowry and others share their passion with me. I attended workshops where we painted pictures with words that dripped off the pages and arranged themselves into the imagination of the readers. We acted out skits and made new friends. If you would have asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, hands down, I would have said a writer and I then would you told you why I wanted to write.
I had stacks and stacks of poetry and half formed stories all over my floors and spilling from desk drawers. To my mom, they were a big mess; to me, they were worlds I created, voices I was attuning my spirit to hear and pictures in my head that I wanted to translate into words. They were silly. They were profound. They were me.
But somewhere in the process of becoming an adult, those stories hushed and settled onto the floor of my soul. And that is basically where they stayed until I started writing on this blog. Or more to the point, I started writing about my stories on this blog. My participles dangle and my verb tenses don’t always live in the same past, present or future. Those of you who are grammar sticklers might cringe once in a while. That’s ok. I don’t always do things exactly by the book – in fact, most of the times I can’t remember where the book is, but I am not writing to impress you but rather because the stories themselves want to be told.
CS Lewis said that the fawn in his Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe simply jumped into his mind fully formed and kept coming to him again and again. J.K. Rowling said it was on a train ride that the character of Harry Potter was formed. Stories often have a lifeforce of their own. And while, I don’t write mine perfectly, I think they are important to write, to refeel and reshape perspective on.
Sometimes my human – ess gets to me and I think – who am I to claim the title of writer? I liked what Anne Lamott said:
Writing: shitty first drafts. Butt in chair. Just do it. You own everything that happened to you. You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart — your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it’s why you were born.
So what are your stories? What do you know of yourself? Where do you write your life?