I remember reading my first chapter book when I was six – ‘Naughty Amelia Jane‘ by Enid Blyton. It was as if a door to another world creaked open and I realised that stories could be magical and devourable. Then came Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys – mysteries, always mysteries. Agatha Christie became a fast favourite. I became fascinated by the depth of human character, by the motivations that drove people to unheard of ends- for revenge, for power, for the sake of envy.
When I began writing my own short stories I found the process compelling but something prevented me from pursuing it fully. Perhaps it was the feeling that Ann Patchett describes in her book ‘The Getaway Car‘, where she paints the most beautiful picture of a butterfly (the story creation process), and then there is the moment where she has to pluck the magical creature from the air and nail it to the desk (the writing process). There is something profoundly unsatisfying about having such a shimmering idea in your mind and then being unable to properly do it justice.
Then there is the whole ‘showing people your soul’ thing. I haven’t always been the poster girl for vulnerability. For far too long there were two of me – the ‘nice Emma’ who would enthusiastically agree with anything you said for fear of upsetting the relationship, and the ‘hidden Emma’ – the unflattering, resentful version so frustrated that she couldn’t get the balance right. Dave has helpfully assisted me to ‘kill off’ the fake version by making clandestine cutthroat signs whenever he spots her ghost. This blog has also been incredibly formative for me in making sure I can’t ever go back to that way of ‘living’ again.
Mostly, the writing process has made me incredibly thankful. I continue to be surprised whenever people mention that they have read my posts, or comment that something I have written resonated with them. The thought that my random and unpredictable words could connect with others and hit a chord is so encouraging and beautiful, and reassures me that I’m doing something worthwhile. That my parents are avidly reading my novel, pleading with me to send through chapters as I complete them is another moment of incredulity for me. That Eli asks me curious questions about what Olivia is doing now in ‘the pirate book’. I am so thankful for the community and connection that is developing through the mere act of sitting down and tapping away on the keys.
Words have the power to connect and heal, as well as devour and destroy. They are knitting me together in ways I never even dreamed of, allowing me to craft and create a story of my own life. What a privilege to be able to work with such a shimmering medium.
*This post was written in far more than five minutes!
This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge that I’m participating in along with talented community of other writers. We free write for five minutes (or more) each day guided by a prompt. Today’s prompt is ‘thanks’.
For more information on 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes, check out Christina Hubbard’s site!