I remember learning how to write. I remember the lined note books, the pencils which I had to turn after every couple of letters to keep the line sharp. I remember the dents in my thumb, index and middle finger from gripping the hexagon shaped shaft too tightly. I remember the soothing noise of the graphite abrasion on the paper.
I loved all of it right from the start.
For a moment, I am back in that 7 year old mind who sat in her school bench – nose as close to the surface as possible, trying to have each A, then B, look exactly like the one at the beginning of row.
It wasn’t about the prospect of being able to write letters or stories. It was all about that one moment, that one letter, that next curve, about it not falling below the line, about it continuing in a smooth, fluid way. And it was about looking back at what I had accomplished; one, two, three lines of perfectly looking As. I was always very clear about what that perfect should look like. No matter what the teacher said. No matter what the parents said. No matter what anybody else said.
I remember my very first journal, a pink and blue lined, hardcover booklet with a lock and a tiny key. I wrote in it when I was upset, worried, scared, angry or – in love. I wrote to deal with my emotions that didn’t seem to be useful anywhere else.
Somewhere deep down I sensed early on that emotions, especially the negative ones, were dangerous. They could trigger actions that in one moment felt totally justified and shortly after left me to regretting them. I also realized quickly that there was always a bigger picture to what I could see, and that being aware of that bigger picture changed the way I felt about something. Writing down situations brought the other characters alive in a non- threatening way, with everybody expecting to be represented fairly.
Every time I wrote something my handwriting had to be impeccable. The selected words had to fit and flow nicely. I’d start out venting about an argument I just had with my sister but within minutes my focus shifted from my emotions to concentrating on the pen movement and thinking about how to most accurately document what just had happened.
I always felt better after I wrote. I don’t think that was only due to the shifting my focus. Being able to express safely whatever was bothering me surely helped as well. Today however, as I was working on a mosaic, wondering how I could possibly be so picky about every single tile and spend precious seconds moving it around, I realized how much I loved that feeling of focus – and how long I had loved it for.
It was like being back in that school bench, able to reduce the entire world around me to that one letter or in this case tile.
I realized that it is precisely that aspect of writing that makes it so precious to me. It allows me to slow down the crazy speed at which the world I live in moves. It allows me to gain control over emotions and thoughts, not by blindly venting on the page, but by trying to capture the true nature including all aspects of any given situation, word by word, line by line, letter by letter.
It allows me to keep my sanity.