When I was young I had no understanding that I was a writer. Creative endeavors were in short supply where I grew up. I had access to the basics in terms of education, and I never questioned beyond what was in front of me.
I had a few splashes of recognition in grade school and high school. A couple writing awards, an essay or two that caught a teacher’s attention but nothing remarkable. I didn’t truly understand how to flow my thoughts on paper until my sophomore year of college. My sociology professor bloodied my written assignments with so much red ink, they looked like crime scenes. As hard as this was to take in stride, at the end of the term I emerged a competent and coherent writer.
I started to notice I could churn out page after page of text while my peers would bemoan the process often coming up short. I loved any and all written assignments. All group reports were designated to me and gladly so.
In graduate school, this trend continued. I had a propensity for spinning analytical papers into fictionalized versions (this was social work and not physics after all) and my professors loved it. This is when I began to understand my writing ability may be something unique. I started to fill notebooks with journal entries, poems, short stories, and whatever else I extracted from the ether of my dreams.
Nothing ever came of it, unless you count the sky-high volume of consumed notebooks as recognition of my authorship, I was still just me.
I got married, paused my social work career, and had kids.
Motherhood changed everything.
It wasn’t all cuddles and coos. It was sleep deprivation, loss of identity, and feeling completely out of my depth. Four years into it my world collapsed as my mom passed away with no real warning. I was faced with navigating parenting without a touchstone. Did I mention my two boys were strong-willed balls of energy that ran me ragged day after day?
I did my best to swim through the grief and be a present and loving mom, but I was woefully overextended. Babysitters and structured preschool helped but what saved me was writing.
After seeing the movie Julie and Julia (about a food bloggers’ homage to Julia Child), I came home and was compelled to start a blog. This was how I began to make sense of my life, my loss and muddle my way through parenting my rambunctious boys. It gave me space to process what I couldn’t see in the moment. I learned I could glean meaning from my wounded parts and find humor in the chaotic absurdity of raising a family.
The first year of my blog I wrote every day. I started to believe I was a writer and that this could be my livelihood.
It’s been over a decade and I’m still waiting.
At some point I had to change my relationship to my expectation of my blog. I realized my audience may be small but the eyes that are meant to find it always do. Sometimes the only benefactor of an entry is Mad Dog, my most fervent and dedicated reader. Sometimes I need the words out of me more than I need anyone else to read them.
WFAM became my growth tool. It helped me practice and hone my skills. On occasion it has led to writing opportunities, and it has given me confidence to submit pieces to numerous publication outlets with varying degrees of success.
WFAM led me to Amelia Island Writers and now I am a published newspaper columnist. This humbles me but I also understand this truth:
I am not special.
I am not more or less talented than anyone holding a dream in their heart or reading these words right now.
I am someone who stumbled upon their creative joy and had the courage to cultivate it. To show up with pen in hand, face the gaping expanse of an empty page, and fill it with words both seen and unseen.