When I was four years old, I already knew that pencil marks could be erased and never seen again. So, I very deliberately went looking for an ink pen for the adventure I had planned (there were always one or two in the kitchen junk drawer). Pen in hand, I secreted myself away with the photographer’s portrait of me, at age two, that sat out on a table in the living room. Carefully removing the photo from its frame, tongue winking between my pressed lips, I set out to make sure no one would ever forget the name of the little girl with creamed coffee curls and a wispy smile pictured there. With the spidery scrawl of a neophyte, I wrote my name at the bottom of the portrait in big black block letters, and unknowingly launched myself into a life- long love affair with pen, paper, and words.
Much much later, after marriage and four children, I went to college. And although I first set out to achieve a degree in History, I realized half way through, that all my elective credits were in English with a definite preference for writing classes. There I was introduced to poetry, and again found another life-long attachment, as well as a second major. Halfway through my college career, I became a single parent and afterward, found a full-time position as the General Manager of a new/used Bookstore.
At that point in time, I didn’t see writing as a career base. First of all, it was far too risky for a single mother with children to feed and to finish raising, and I saw myself as a poet and poets rarely, if ever, get to quit their day jobs. If I am to be completely honest, I also really liked working in the Bookstore surrounded by the other love of my life. However, I did start publishing some of my poems and one of them was accepted and anchored an anthology which was later nominated for a Grammy Award. The local media fuss about the award and my participation, opened another door, I might not have ever walked through otherwise.
I became a Freelance Writing Instructor, teaching my first class at the four year university from which I had graduated. Actually, it was a credit course in the Teacher’s Certification Program. Certainly not bad wages for a poet who only saw herself as a beginner. My specialty was Personal Writing: how to get on the page regularly and sustain that process over time. In other words, the Art of Keeping a Journal. I used everything I had learned by keeping a daily journal for ten years before that. It was one of the most exciting adventures I had ever committed myself to, and is the basis for this current blog.
I continued to teach for ten years, also giving workshops, and all day retreats, as well as leading classes in most of the fine arts schools and museums in the area. However, a life-long back condition disabled me about four years ago, and I had to quit and settle down to become, of all things, just another couch potato, watching television, reading books, and occasionally getting on my computer to write a random poem or email. Last year, on my 61st birthday, I tried an old exercise of writing a poem a day. It actually astounded me and I continued for four months until I moved back here to the city of my birth. The physical energy used up in transplanting myself put an end to the exercise, and I once again turned back to television and reading.
More recently, something I watched on TV prompted me to reopen my journal writing and that in turn, led me to create a Myspace page on which I used those poems from last year to fill up the blog space therein. Last week, I stumbled into a poet’s blog, here on Word Press, in which the author was writing a poem a day. I found myself going back to her page, encouraging her to continue. It isn’t often one finds another fool who will do that exercise and succeed at it. Which, of course, led me to here and this page where I intend to do what I am really quite good at: encourage others to get on the page and stay there because it just happens to be the cheapest form of therapy known to humankind, other than laughter, which can hurt if one does it too loudly and too much at a single go. So can writing, but both of them are in the category of ‘good pain.’ “I laughed until every muscle ached”, or, “I wrote until my fingers stiffened up and I couldn’t write anymore”, are good memories that I cherish. Do you?
I do welcome comments, and even disagreements, as long as they respect both participants’ rights to speak and to be heard.