I have been writing for all the wrong reasons. There was a time when I wrote what I was thinking, and when I finished, I would read it and breathe. I had a sense of cathartic accomplishment. I didn’t write for anyone. I just wrote what was on my mind. In a letter to Elizabeth McKee, who would become Flannery O’Connor’s agent, Miss O’Connor wrote, “I must tell you how I work. I don’t have my novel outlined, and I have to write to discover what I am doing. Like the old lady, I don’t know so well what I think until I see what I say; then I have to say it over again.” I get this. As a writer who has no credibility, I am cautious to say I understand how a great writer like Flannery O’Connor works, but I do.
I was never one to write a journal or a diary. I did have a diary in the 4th grade. I found it in high school, and I think I destroyed it. I can’t remember what I did with it, but I do remember what I wrote and how embarrassed I was with such personal thoughts. Apparently, I wanted to have long hair and long fingernails. This was the daily theme of my diary. I must have sensed even as a 10-year-old how shallow I must have been, so I quit writing in my diary when I realized I had pretty good hair and my nails were just fine. I also gave up the desire to be a country music singer and marry Donny Osmond which peppered some of the pages as well.
When I discovered my diary as a teenager, I laughed quite hard at my 10-year-old self, but I think the reason I destroyed my diary is that I remember the pain behind those entries. It was my 4th-grade year, and I had attended three schools in that one school year. I felt so lonely and out of place. I wanted to be anything, but me. I spent a lot of time in my room fantasizing about another life. I would act out skits. I would role play. I would write. I would tape myself singing on a tape recorder.
I spent a lot of time alone. My sister is 7 1/2 years younger than I am so I learned how to play alone those years as an only child. I could always entertain myself through any of these avenues.
Writing or creating has been an alternative world for me to cope with my insecurities, my anxiety, and my boredom. However, I stopped writing for a while because I couldn’t. I took Ernest Hemingway’s advice to heart. “You shouldn’t write if you can’t write.” I couldn’t write because I was not writing for the reasons I began writing for in the first place, as a coping mechanism. I began to write for affirmation or to inspire. I was honest in my writing, but I stressed too much about it. So, again today I made a goal to write daily. Just sit down and write and be honest about where I am each day. If that inspires someone, then I am happy to be a source of inspiration. If not, then I will have a diary which I can read in years to come and cringe at my honesty and insecurity. And, also Dear Diary, I wish I could have long flowing hair and long fingernails, but I no longer wish for Donny. Though, I would like a shot at being a country music singer one day. Now, I know what I am thinking.