Another creative course has come to an end, just like another year is about to. This class was called Writing Your Life Story, and although I plan to do that in the future, it was not for now. I still got a lot out of the class and have a better foundation for when the time is right for me to share my story. This last writing assignment called for us to write “200 words or less, tell me how you feel when you capture in your notebook or writer’s journal the essence of people and places that appear in your writing. Are you excited, afraid, puzzled, delighted, daunted, or a combination of all these feelings?” Since I was not actively gathering information on the people I have encountered, I wrote something a little different. The instructor’s comment is at the end.
For as long as I can remember, pen and paper have been an obsession of mine. When I was around 10 or 11, I started writing letters to pen pals around the world. There was Keiko in Japan, Farhana in India, and Sandra in France. It was so much fun buying colorful stationery and unusual pens and pencils. My handwriting was quite neat and legible back then, and I would constantly play with new ways of writing, sometimes slanting, sometimes in all-caps, sometimes straight up and down. Sometimes it depended on the paper and the pen I was using at the moment. As I’d get used to writing one way, my handwriting would eventually become sloppy and I would make up another one.
Every summer growing up, I would stay with my uncle in Finland. My cousin Anne was just as fascinated with papers and cards as I was, so we would visit a little paper shop where I was first introduced to everything Japanese. Well, maybe it wasn’t everything, but to a paper-obsessed young girl, Hello Kitty! was quite exciting. In that little store, I would stock up on writing pads, erasers that smelled like strawberries and other little notebooks, postcards, and gadgets.
As a funny twist to my obsession, I was more interested in collecting the pads and note cards than actually writing on them. If it wasn’t a letter being written to Keiko or Sandra, I liked the pages left blank. My love for everything paper-related made it challenging for me to actually write something in something so pretty.
When I started my first online writing course a few months back, I was encouraged to start journaling. Around the same time, I started attending a Single Moms group at church, and Claire, the leader, supplied us with pens and journals—it must have been fate that she encouraged us to write. I loved the little black notebook with pink and purple butterflies she handed each of us. It even had an elastic band to keep it closed. I immediate starting using it for my writing class and begged Claire for another one for the group. She was glad to give me one and told me they were from Target. I went and cleaned them out. They are cheap and they are the perfect size to carry around without having to buy a suitcase to lug them around. I also love the elastic. It’s not quite a lock on a diary, but it still gives me a sense of privacy, knowing it won’t fling open at a bad time.
Journaling in this inexpensive little book has given me the freedom to abandon trying to make my handwriting perfect and to just follow my thoughts, random as they are at times. I can also feel liberated in knowing that, although my daughters know how to read or are learning to read, my handwriting is so atrocious they would abandon their attempt to trying to decipher what I’ve written. I feel like my thoughts are still my thoughts and that they can remain private. In a cheap little black book with pink and purple butterflies.
My dear colleague Katja: This IS the best writing you’ve ever done for me, and you’ve done some excellent piece of work.
May I nudge you? I could see this in any women’s magazine that takes essays. OR how about a regional, or local one like Points North? Or how about one of the Christian women’s magazines that you read?
All that said, my friend, do not let this languish in your computer. We must, according to our beliefs, not hide our light beneath a bowl. Right? Eva