We do live, all of us, on many different levels, and for most artists the world of imagination is more real than the world of the kitchen sink. -L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet
I remember the first book I wrote. It was first grade, and my grandparents had just revealed to the family that we would all be going to Disney World during summer vacation. It was March, so naturally the months felt like years to my seven-year-old self, and I passed the time dreaming about Mikey and Minnie. My first book was about going to see them, written on notebook paper, illustrated with crayola, and stapled together at the sides. I took extra care to make it appear like the picture books on the shelves in my room, but I remember the disappointment I felt, even at seven, that the finished product looked nothing like I imagined it would. I thought about learning to paint.
Later the next year — or perhaps the next? My memory is not too precise — I was laying in bed, the hall light on as always. I stared at the patterns on my wood door and found, amazingly, that one looked exactly like a witch’s face. It was all I could do to not jump out of bed and draw it right then, and I fell asleep thinking about how my drawing would look just like the Wicked Witch in “The Wizard of Oz.” The next morning, no one was more disappointed than I that my pencil would not obey the ordering of my mind, and even the strange-looking pattern on my door seemed to be mocking me. I clearly remember deciding that I would not be that kind of artist, as it would be too frustrating for one’s work to never be realized as one hoped it would. For this reason, years later in a junior high art course, I was beyond surprised when my teacher praised one of my works, thinking, “But I’m not good at art!” That moment in elementary, I think, is when I decided to become a writer. My inner world was just too vivid; it needed a way out.
It’s taken some time for me to reclaim this piece of myself, as its been dormant, seemingly dead, since being plucked out of the fertile soil of college and dropped (quite suddenly) into marriage and motherhood. Sure, I was a “blogger,” but people with daily drawings and sponsors and blog-for-business sites are “bloggers” too, and that certainly was not me. I’m a writer. I always felt special when I called myself that as a young girl, but then I grew up and realized that other people are writers, too. Other people live in dream worlds and spin phrases while they do the daily, not just me. For a while, that realization was quite threatening — of course, I am not the best of these, so can I really call myself by the same name? I am not published, I do not have a novel in the wings, I cannot even say I am practiced at writing anymore. But with the awakening of many things these past months, God has brought understanding to this, as well: though other people are writers, too, not everyone is a writer. And because of this, writing is an art I am called to — the only question is how I will respond.
After turning in my honors thesis, a book of poetry, I remember feeling both relief and dread: so its over, then. My time as a writer had to come to an end, because I certainly couldn’t see how it could benefit me or the world if I couldn’t pursue it wholeheartedly, and I was getting married and moving overseas. Those things would require a whole helluva lot of heart, so what could I possibly continue to give to writing? Cue sadness and depression.
Now, with even more on my plate than before, I’m learning I must fight for that part of myself — because its a big part, and the others suffer if its not thriving. Also because its been given to me, and I don’t want to be the servant that buries the talent for fear of losing it, only to be scolded later. I’ve got to give time to it, cultivate and water it, because I’m not me without it — and happily so.