Written April 2017
I love to write. I don’t know when it started, but I remember why. I know that I once wrote some horrid “poetry” on the family computer in my home – a desktop Gateway that arrived in a cow print box – and I remember my dad encouraging my writing. When I say the “poetry” was “horrid,” what I really mean is that it was something beyond “horrid.” Something worse. But I was a child. I remember writing about “rage.” I don’t remember why. Even years later when I wrote angry adolescent “poetry,” I still didn’t really understand rage.
So, I remember my dad encouraging my writing. While in high school, I had a teacher who encouraged my writing. Back then, he was Mr. Dudding. Today, he is Dr. Dudding. I wrote stories for his freshman English class. I wrote poetry and stories for his Advanced Reading/Creative Writing class during my junior year. I think it was during my sophomore year that I won a creative writing contest in The Athens Messenger. Well, I didn’t win, but I placed. My award was $20 – the only time I’ve received money for my writing. It was a scary story Halloween contest. I remember Mrs. Beegle helping me reduce my word count so I could enter the story in the contest. One of the few times (or maybe the only time?) I worked to remove words and length from an assignment. That was an encouragement. Mrs. Beegle didn’t have to give my story a second thought. She didn’t have to go out of her way to help me get the piece into the contest.
Junior year: Advanced Reading / Creative Writing. We had to do a “semester project.” For my project, I turned in a stack of poems I had written. I probably still have them hidden away somewhere. I am sure they are bad-bad-bad news. When Mr. Dudding returned my work to me, he made eye contact with me and said, “Thank you.” It was very convincing. Convincing enough to make me feel uncomfortable – being noticed makes me feel that way. This was especially true when I was a teenager. In the folder of poems I had handed in, Mr. Dudding put a typed letter to me. I KNOW I still have that. It’s on yellow paper. I have memorized parts of it. I vividly remember reading that letter and making the conscious choice to be open minded about the things he wrote to me. I consciously chose to believe that he may be right. He was right. That letter changed my life and encouraged me to be more open minded, across the board.
During my freshman year of college, I took Algebra and Composition I the same semester. I got an A in Algebra and a B in Comp. I. Even now, I have no idea how this happened. I love words; I love writing. I hate numbers. I hate math. I am proud to state that I can’t math. Even when I can, I just don’t want to math. I took Comp. 2 and a Creative Writing class during college. Neither is particularly memorable. While in Comp. 2, I had the “pleasure” of reading an essay written by a male classmate about how women like to be treated badly.
I credit college with ruining my writing-for-leisure drive. I was a Psychology major, Anthropology minor. The bulk of what I wrote during college was academic out the ass with citations, references, APA formatting…. It wasn’t fun, although I tried to pick up interesting topics for my work (pre-natal learning, y’all). They got boring after all the research and pressure. While I believe my Honors Thesis was boring as shit, I find myself thinking about it every once in a while because I work with people who are engaged in a therapeutic relationship and I see and understand how their withholding damages that relationship. They withhold from me, as well. It doesn’t serve anyone.
I also went to grad. school. I think of it as “diet grad. school” or “grad. school lite.” Maybe sometimes “watered down grad. school.” It was not as challenging as it should’ve been, but that’s the nature of the program, I think. Grad. school was zero creative writing.
Journals. Oh, yes. I have journals for days, people. I think they are worthless and stupid, but when it comes time to dispose of them, my brain tells me not to do that. My brain says I might someday want to relive the depression of adolescence. I might someday want to revisit that abusive relationship that, essentially, went on for 6 years. I might someday want to reminisce about the guy on whom I had a crush who now has an extensive criminal record, multiple children with multiple partners and no steady job. My brain is ridiculous.
However, in those journals there are good memories; happy memories. I know they are there because I had good times as an adolescent and as an emerging adult. There are also poems in those journals. The majority are likely crap, that’s true. But if there’s even one poem worth saving in all of those journals, I have to keep all those journals so I don’t lose that one page.
I have kept a journal for years, but not always steadily. There is much less poetry in the more recent journals. More recent journals are fitness goals achieved, frustrations at work, relationship complications that I have to write out to resolve, travels, quotes, music shows…. Life. It’s possible my more recent journals are more rambling because, instead of just whining and crying about an issue, I use journals to write out my feelings, write out the problem and brainstorm possible solutions. I also use journals to hold small photographs, movie tickets, music show tickets, paper bracelets from music shows, stickers that won’t ever be stuck, small notes, etc.
During our 2016 Marfa Adventure, Mr. Arber mentioned that Rainer Judd, Donald Judd’s daughter, carries a journal with her at all times. Not long after that trip, I bought a Kelly green Moleskine that fits inside even my smallest purse. In this journal, I am doing more jotting than I have done in the past – gift ideas for others, gift ideas for me, story ideas, lists of places visited during an adventure, etc. It’s easy to get to, and I can expand on a topic later, if needed.
I once kept an “online diary” at DiaryLand, which I don’t think exists anymore. I know that was stupid. That was during high school and college. I don’t know who I thought I was. I also previously kept a blog, around 2010 when I first moved to Texas. I had high hopes for that. I think a few entries were respectable. It’s hard to say, because that was the end of my “conservative Republican hey day.” I can’t find that blog now, and I didn’t keep it up because I got wrapped up in building life in Texas.
I have a few story ideas. I have a project I plan to begin tackling before the end of 2017, which will involve A LOT of writing. I would like to keep a blog – I mean really keep a blog – to document my project. I expect the project to take no less than forever to complete and involve more travelling than I can actually afford. Regardless of the documentation of the Project Adventure, I would just like to write sometimes.