Blank Pages and the Backspace Bar
This month I want to unpack our creative journeys - to look back at where we started and see how far we’ve come. I can’t expect you to share your journeys without first sharing pieces of my own.
This week I want to focus on my writing journey - everything from journaling to storytelling and prose.
My desire to write comes from an insatiable love of stories. From a young age my parents made sure to read me bedtime stories nightly, to cultivate a love of reading in me that I have carried with me ever since. Before I really could read I sat beside my brother’s bassinet ‘reading’ him stories. It was no time before I wanted to write my own.
My parents encouraged me to channel this will to write through journaling. It started with general journaling each night about my day, a practice that was on and off for many years. Around the time I was sixteen I read Deep and Meaningful Diaries from Planet Janet, and after that my daily journal became an imitation of that very stylized, sassy, colourful iteration. It was a practice I could never stick to. My mom and I even tried doing a thankful journal back and forth where we would write letters of gratitude back and forth, and that lasted longer than most practices. Most recently I have been utilizing The Jane Austen Daily Devotional and The Five Minute Journal, shorter reflective bursts to maintain a more sustainable practice for my schedule and personality.
Journaling and I have a complicated relationship. I don’t want a journal to tell me what to do, but I lack consistency when left to my own devices. Instead of reflecting on my day and using introspection to better myself through journaling, it would become a laundry list of things I’d done or had to do - fueling resentment, stress and fear. These days I find that guided journals prompting self reflection and gratitude meet my needs best, sometimes with a mix of deeply reflective and introspective free writing to work through stress and emotional turmoil.
By being consistent with the shorter journal bits, when I don’t do a full page of free writing I don’t come down too hard on myself, because I’m maintaining trust with the shorter practice.
Fiction and Non-Fiction:
Fiction has always been an important part of my life. From teaching me life lessons, broadening my horizons and bringing my family together in discourse and quality time, fiction has always been central to my development. To this day my father reads us The Christmas miracle of Johnathan Tommy and The Polar Express each Christmas. This tradition of literature and story telling is pivotal in our family, to the point my husband and I partake in this tradition as well, and it is one I have tattooed on my body, one I want to pass on to my own children one day.
One of my first stories, famously, is about a turkey named Tom who was going to go on an epic adventure to escape his Thanksgiving fate, but when the teacher said I could not have a second turkey sheet to write on, it ends with the line, “And then Tom got baked”, this was in grade one or two, no framed in the family home. I remember writing my first ‘novel’ Shell Cottage at age twelve. A few years after that, I wrote a story in journal format, it was scarier, a mystery, but I have no memory of the title or the premise; what I do remember is the feeling of writing, of finishing and the creative energy swirling around inside me.
The summer we were fourteen, my cousin and I decided we were going to write books together, exchanging stories, plotting out sequels and generally congratulating each other on our brilliance. We wrote over our annual camping trip to Grundy Lake Provincial Park, pen to paper, at the beach, in the tent, around the fire with flashlights in hand or by the lantern light at the picnic table. To this day, the seed of an idea that began as a young fantasy to write a book has evolved and persists. It is now referred to as my passion project, and is still ever evolving.
I then wrote the Exercise Library Part Once as a Christams gift for my brother Eli - the first time I used my writing as a gift, or act of creation for another person. In a further foray into non-fiction I want to write a day planner specifically for creatives, with prompts, guides and space for creative expression and organization in varying formats.
As I do yet another re-work mid story and begin writing a full and extensive world building bible, I decided to continue developing my craft and exercising my creative muscle by writing in other genres, by unleashing other stories. Instead of sticking to fantasy, I crossed into the realm of contemporary romance with my current WIP - surprise, surprise a Christmas romance. I started it during NanoWriMo 2021, and still have yet to finish, but the one thing I did take away from NaNo was how to write without stopping to edit halfway through. As I wrote the ideas continued to flow - I now have plans for three other contemporary romances in series, along with a budding concept for romantic suspense and a retelling of an old slow burn romance, maybe with hints of magical realism embedded in myth.
Prose and Poetry:
For a long while I thought about studying English or creative writing at university, but, like many, believed it wouldn’t be a reliable career path. But I never stopped writing. Books, stories, they were my way to escape the stress of exams and studying. When reading didn’t do enough, I would write. I have notebooks and word docs full of stream of consciousness working through the anxiety of stepping into adulthood, depression from friend’s moving on and feeling left behind.
In high school I was introduced to spoken word poetry, and although the only attempt I have made has been in the safety of Creating Confidently, I would go to shows each month, and conduct many attempts in my various journals I took everywhere. From the time I was in elementary school, just thinking on the page, developing ideas fluidly and without reason or restraint, I always had a journal and a pen on me.
I loved studying literature and poetry in university - it was to satisfy my humanities course requirement - and it taught me that word choice and sentence structure and nuance is everything to being concise and creative, while conveying a clear message.
My writing journey has been everything but straightforward, as evidenced by this connect the dots post, but I feel like everything is coalescing into some sort of order in my creative life, and I am ready to explore those creative avenues through craft and the journey each and every encounter with writing brings me - pen to paper or with a keyboard.