When I was seven, I started my first journal — It was a tiny blue hardcover diary with a lock. I remember being constantly annoyed that it wasn’t bigger and that the itty pages filled up so quickly. Inside were my observations, “Going to Rachel’s and saw there was a big fire above Famiglia’s Pizza. All the windows were black.” “Sarah ate three packets of ketchup on the bus. She dared me but I said no.”
I began writing my first short stories in third grade. They were obscure, dark tales about young girls walking through gardens filled with human statues. I was obsessed with this idea and wrote the same story over and over again.
This quote from Anne Lamott really resonated with me:
“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”
Writing for me has never been a question. I’ve never wondered if I should be doing it, I’ve always just done it. And reading a good book provides that same comfort. I can read a novel and feel very, very close to the author. A certain sentence can literally hold me up, remind me why I write. It is a deep sense of camaraderie, of being in on this secret. It keeps me going as I struggle with what I call, “9 to 5 envy.” In that way, I feel so lucky.
Illustration by Sylvia Plath