Without much ado, a small feat was accomplished on June 24, 2012. When I remembered, I quietly congratulated myself and went on with my day, smiling as I remembered that June afternoon twenty years ago when I first picked up that purple marker and red Mead 3-subject notebook.
And I began writing.
That’s right – I became a writer twenty years ago on June 24, 1992. To some it may seem like a silly date to remember. But I’m good with dates – seriously, I remember the weirdest, most random dates – and this particular date has always been important to me. The day I started writing was the day I became ME.
Now when I say that I became a writer, I’m not talking about “A Published Writer of Stories”. Duh. I was thirteen years old. I had just finished seventh grade. I was in love with Edward Furlong. My best friends were Becky and Elizabeth. I was taking tennis lessons. Batman Returns had just opened in theaters. That’s what was going on that summer.
But something made me reach for that red notebook and start writing. To this day I don’t really know what it was. But I just started writing about whatever was on my mind (at the time it was about Punky Brewster), and I never stopped.
Writing – or journaling – became the most important thing in my life after that. I took that red notebook and marker (I would only use the skinny Crayola markers to write) everywhere with me. I wrote in the car. I wrote while I ate breakfast. I wrote while hanging out at a friend’s house. Like a true writer, I wrote whenever the hell I got the chance. And when I finished that first red notebook, I went out and got another one.
A few months into eighth grade I became friends with Kate, who also began journaling. I suddenly had a writing buddy, which is like the best thing to have when you’re a writer. Suddenly you have someone who shares the same passion as you, and who understands what it means to love to write.
We would swap notebooks and read each other’s entries, because she was the only one I trusted to read my notebook. We would even read our entries to each other over the phone. And when our journaling advanced to actual story-writing (see this post here), we would critique each other’s stories, like we were each other’s editors.
That lasted pretty much through the end of high school, though we sort of stopped the whole reading each other’s notebooks towards the end because, well, we just grew up. When I went off to college I continued writing, and I was writing more than ever, mostly during lecture classes that bore the hell out of me, and I needed a way to stay awake.
Which is probably why I didn’t do so hot in that Intro to Journalism class, but whatever. I was probably better off than the guy next to me who slept the entire semester.
I was writing more stories, and they were becoming more advanced, aka better. I was starting to find my voice in not only story-writing, but also journaling. My entries were starting to be a little more exciting and thoughtful and more than just “I saw so-and-so today and he looked at me!!!”, which is basically what my high school journals were all about.
I used to keep track of how many pages I was writing, plus how many notebooks I had completed. I remember reaching notebook #50 and thinking that was the greatest thing in the world. Reaching 10,000pages was awesome and a feat that none of my friends at the time could wrap their heads around.*
*Note: I stopped keeping track of page numbers a long time ago because I got so far behind. If I had to guess, I’d say I’m around 50,000 right now, give or take a few thousand. But that’s just a guess.
When I moved out to California after college, all my notebooks came with me, much to the despair of my parents who had to drive them all out for me. But those notebooks were part of me, and I couldn’t just leave them behind.
You know, it’s funny…when I think about how I just packed up and moved to CA after I finished college and how I wasn’t even scared. My friends were amazed that I was able to do it so easily, and I think back and realize that the reason why I was okay was because I had my notebook with me. It was like a friend, watching over me when I moved. And yes, I realize that sounds silly. But if I felt scared or nervous or just out of place, I would just start writing in my notebook. It was the only familiar thing I had with me, and I found comfort in that.
For the next seven years, I would continue writing pages and pages every day the way I had since I started back in 1992. Writing was like brushing my teeth. Just part of the routine that I didn’t even have to think about anymore.
And then I got pregnant.
Weird things happen to you when you get pregnant. Not only does your appetite change (give me chicken fingers NOW), but things that you once found enjoyable suddenly seem, well, not so enjoyable. For example, my taste in movies changed. My taste in books changed. Nothing I owned seemed acceptable to me, and all I wanted to watch was HGTV.
And I stopped writing.
It sounds horrible. Being pregnant should be the most important time to be writing because you want to chronicle every thing you’re going through. The thought of writing made me nauseous (especially during the first two months, haha), and just seemed like a chore to me.
And when I finally had my daughter? Forget about it. Writing was the last thing on my mind. And at that point I actually got used to not writing, which is something that I thought would never happen. Once in a while I would see my notebook sitting there and I would think, “Hey, I should try write something”. But then the thought of having to start up again after almost two years felt like such a burden that I wouldn’t do it.
But as my daughter got older and we got more of a routine down, I slowly began writing again. But I wasn’t writing in notebooks. I wasn’t journaling. I was simply focused on story-writing on my laptop. It felt good to be writing again. But it wasn’t the same.
In July of 2011 I started this blog, which is the closest I got to journaling the way I used to, and that felt good. It felt more like writing than the stories I was working on, and it slowly led me to finding my voice again, which sometimes got lost in my stories.
Fast forward a couple of years to February 2012. We had moved to Minnesota after spending almost 11 years there. I stopped working retail, which I think was partly to blame for my lack of journaling. I had a normal job again – a job where I could bring my journal and have it at my desk and occasionally jot some thoughts and ideas into it.
Suddenly I was journaling again. I was really writing again. I was ME again.
So it’s now been twenty years, and I feel like I’m back to my old ways. I journal when I need to. I work on stories when I get into the mood. And I blog when I feel like sharing things with the world. Writing is still my favorite thing to do, and the most therapeutic part of my life (and it’s FREE!). Writing is something I will always recommend to people, and it’s one of those things where it’s never too late to start. There are some good resources online about getting started in writing, whether it’s journaling or blogging or story-writing. Remember, it doesn’t matter what you’re write. You’re writing, and that’s all that matters!
Here’s to another twenty years!