Yesterday was the ‘National Day on Writing’, a project that, according to the press release, “…aspired to create a national discussion about the importance of writing by collecting essays from people, interviewing authors, collecting student essays and spreading the word throughout the country..” – and naturally there was a hashtag, #whyiwrite.
The hashtag inspired some amazing personal revelations, like this one by Jo Hart “Because my head is so full of stories and ideas if I didn’t let them out onto paper I’d probably go crazy.” And this one by Nova Ren Suma “Because I used to be too shy to say it out loud. And now I’d rather not say it any other way.”
People ask me all the time why I write. A lot of writers will say that they were preternaturally early readers. That’s certainly the case with me. So, is it just love of language? Not completely. Don’t get me wrong, I love the written word. Many author’s works darn near make me weep with pleasure. But if I was honest, and really wanted to get to the nitty gritty of why I write, it would most likely match what Sara Halperin had to say in her #whyiwrite tweet: “…because writing is better than therapy.”
My first piece of epic, angst’y writing was penned around the age of twelve or thirteen (I’m still looking for it, but I will post it!). I’m pretty sure I was also mere weeks away from my first therapy session. And any therapist worth a salt will tell you to write things down. Exorcise the ghosts. *Put* them somewhere else. I fancied myself a bit of a poet in the old days, as most of my Joy Division loving peers did. In my very early twenties it was all gloom, doom and hearts ripped to shreds – truly Canadian Gothic. But in all seriousness, writing helped keep that black dog at bay and carried me through some very bleak and lonely times.
It’s true that you generally develop your unique writing voice as you mature. And yes, writing takes practice. Often years and years of practice. So, on that note, and in honour of #whyiwrite, today I begin a weekly Friday post where I bravely share some of the best (and by best, I’m sure I mean worst) of what I wrote in the dark days of early writer’hood. I’ve been thinking about doing this for awhile, mainly to have a laugh. And I’m always up for some snarky teasing, but don’t be too harsh. Some of this stuff is *25 plus years old! Here goes:
I see you in a black wash, undefined.
And because you are not real to me,
fear tiptoes stealthily behind
and guards my every word.
Then you look at me.
Like a child, startling eyes.
And I yearn to become a black wash,
and envelop you like the night.
Leaving fear behind to wonder.
*NOTE: I have just learned that the hardest part of this exercise is not allowing myself to edit these oldies. Arrgghhh!
Now, I want to challenge YOU! Dig out your old journals, revisit that young writer, and share your earliest entries along with me. Post some in the comments section. Are YOU brave enough?