Writing to Save My Life

The first things I remember writing about myself were my florid diary entries when I was in my early teens. The book had a red leather cover and a little lock on it, and I wore the key on a silver chain around my neck. It became my confidant, a place to express myself unjudged, a place of secrets and dreams. My mother came across it one day when I’d carelessly forgotten to lock it, and she read it cover to cover while I was in school. When I came home she confronted me about my secret life and imaginings, put me in my practical place and shattered my fragile sense of value. I thought I’d never forgive her.

It didn’t stop me from writing though. Over the years I fit my passion for words into places that eventually earned a good living for me and where my own voice would not be discerned. I wrote catalog copy, trade articles, contracts, training materials, executive speeches, grants, marketing brochures, streams of words to promote the goals and ideas of others. I was good at it. So good that I didn’t bother to make time to write down my own thoughts, my own opinions, my secrets. Oh, I kept a journal off and on but it was a chronicle of where I’d been and what I’d done, not about who I was.

After spending forty fast paced years working in so many forms of marketing that took me all over the world while I squeezed in raising a family, now I’m back to just me. One by one the links to my professional life have frayed and come undone. Few people around me now know what I do day to day. Few know of my past successes and, yes, my failures. Few care, and why should they? They’re busy living their own lives. It would be so easy for me to just enjoy my wisdom years in solitude and sink into the cozy habits of a hermit. But of all the things I miss about my business career, I miss writing the most.

So, now instead of putting together words that motivate others to do things or buy things or agree to things, I’ve begun to write to motivate myself. I write to stay sane and healthy and connected to myself and with the world around me. I’ve made writing a part of my day to day tasks. I call myself a writer. I am a writer. I hang out with writers to keep myself motivated. I’ve fairly faithfully fit five hundred words a day into my routine. It feels right. It feels like me in ways it hasn’t since I was a child. I’m leaving a legacy of words, of ideas, of stories so my descendents will know who I was. Along with the lessons I’ve left to my children and their children, they may one day go through my things, sit back and read what was on my mind and in my heart on those days I had the courage to express myself. They won’t be able to confront me or judge me or challenge the confidence I’ve built in myself over the years. They will have the proof through my words that I lived, I loved, I celebrated, I feared, I was more than the person they thought they knew.

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