She finished the final sentence in the story, closed the notebook, and carefully put down her pencil. Then she sat upright, staring down at the tiny notebook and thinking about what she had written.
Her thoughts wandered for a bit, and when she came back to the present moment she realized that she was turning the tiny notebook over and over in her left hand. This one had off-white pages with a beige cover. It contained 48 pages in all. She sat it down on her nightstand and eased herself into the pillow behind her. The headboard banged softly against the wall and she dozed off and into a dream.
Over the years she had turned herself into a writer. It was something she had dreamed of doing since she was in the 5th grade. Danny, a fellow student, had asked her to write a story with him to share with their class. She had excitedly agreed, only to be removed from the project a few days later when Danny felt like the story would turn out better if he proceeded on his own.
This saddened her at first. Then, she slowly understood that a great story could wait for no one. It had to be told, and those who embraced this urgency became the storytellers of their time.
The tiny notebook filled up with her words, spilling over into scraps of paper inserted between its pages. Finally, she wrote the beginning and ending dates on the first and last page and tucked it away with some personal cards and photos from years past. She removed one photo from the pile, opened up a blank notebook, and began to write.
Was it truly so easy to become the writer she so wanted to be? Out loud, she said the words: writer; one who writes. She committed to writing every day. She would write about anything that crossed her mind. She became obsessed with jotting down her thoughts and ideas. Some days she had to extricate the memories from the recesses of her mind. At other times, she was willing to settle for writing a story about the mundane events of her life.
Over the years, she became disillusioned with her work as a classroom teacher and longed to leave this career behind. Could she become a writer? Yes! But, could she earn a living in this way? She did not believe she could, so that became her reality. Her writing would continue to be more of an avocation, and one that would give her continued hope for a different life. Writing relieved some of her stress, and writing down the events of the day became a therapeutic way to reframe her experiences.
The stories became more important. Sometimes they served as a way to remember something or someone from her life in previous years. More tiny notebooks followed. They were of various colors and textures and now she was handwriting her name and the date in the front of each one.
Sometimes, she would choose a slightly larger and thicker notebook, but it wasn’t the same. She needed to comfort of knowing that she could fill the tiny notebooks more quickly. It was less of a commitment to write for five minutes and see that several pages of her life had been laid bare across those pages.
She began attending seminars on personal development. Then she would come home and write about what had been taught and shared. She was playing small because it felt like enough for her at the time. She soon learned that staying within her comfort zone was the most uncomfortable space she could inhabit, but reaching for more was too much of a stretch. This would quickly lead to thoughts and memories of people and events she thought she had permanently erased so long ago. But there they were, percolating at the top of her mind, begging to be revisited and shared.
She thought about the next story she could tell, the ideas cascading through her mind like a gentle waterfall spilling out from a mountain. Reaching across her pillows and comforter, she stroked the cover of the notebook that had come to mean so much to her over the past eighteen months. Oh, the stories it could tell!
This was one was peach-colored and ever so slightly larger than the previous one, yet a tiny notebook nonetheless. She had favorites pens now as well, one with black ink and the other with blue. Sometimes she would carefully pick some roses from her yard and place them in a glass of water to sit on her writing table and give her inspiration.
She’d come a long way, and the writing made her feel like she was finally giving something back to the world. Thinking back to her Sunday School classes as she was growing up, she decided that becoming a storyteller was finally allowing her to be in the world without being of the world. She was still ruminating on her beliefs around all of this, and these deep thoughts flowed into awkward, run-on sentences that she could untangle to better understand her life.
One day she entered what she considered to be a dark period, where the stories took a turn towards the unhappiest times of her life. She would wake up in the wee hours of the morning, sweaty and out of breath and unable to go back to sleep until the story had been written out in great detail. The man who had lived down the street from she and her mother who gave her a scare each time he glanced in her direction; the teenage brother of her friend from school, who had come to her in a vivid dream the night after he had drowned in the lake; and the neighbors who had included her in their family dinners and birthday celebrations, until the father would come home in a drunken rage and everyone would scatter to avoid his wrath were all characters and stories that she knew she had to tell in written form.
The tiny notebook during this time was brown and rough with lined pages that were just small enough to make the writing process a bit uncomfortable. She wrote the stories anyway, but each one left a taste in her mouth like food that had just gone bad. She was not bothered by this feeling and experience, as it seemed to fit with the stories she was telling at that time.
A series of experiences led her to the point where she knew she had to resign from teaching, and also stop working part-time in real estate simultaneously. She made a one-year plan, and on the day she shared this plan with her closest friend she could feel the stories draining from her conscious mind. She made an agreement with herself: she was willing to give up writing her stories in exchange for a new life. She needed to relocate to a new city and find work she could do from home.
She returned to the personal development seminars and purchased some books and courses that sounded like they would contain the answers she was seeking. One thing led to another and one day she woke up in the middle of a dream that would define the journey she was now willing to embark upon to change her life.
She was not an artist, but at one live event she found herself drawing a picture of her ideal day with colored pencils. Her dogs were at her feet, plantation shutters covered the windows and sliding glass doors, and the mountains and sky formed a picturesque view in the distance. She shared the drawing with the others in her group that day, but later on she would not be able to recall what she said or felt on that day, or what anyone else said to her. She shoved the drawing, along with her folder from the event into a box that was filled with important papers and books and details of the seminars she was attending as she was striving to transition to a new life, one that was still far away and not well defined.
Time passed. Life took its twists and turns and one day she woke up and wondered where the past year had gone. It had been like a dream, but a magical one for a change. She was living in a new house, in a city she had only been to during her days of appraising new homes. Only this home was hers.
She moved across the room slowly, floating on the experiences that were now a part of her daily life. Her two small dogs sat at her feet as she took her seat in front of the computer. The sun shone brightly through the windows and she reach over to change the angle of the shutters. There were poppies blooming on the mountain tops, giving her a view of the outside world through a new and exciting lens.
Before turning on the computer, she opened the black notebook to a new, blank page. This wasn’t a tiny notebook, but instead one that was capable of holding the stories she was now ready to tell. She picked up her pen and began to write, and the words spilled out onto the pages in a most satisfying manner. She realized she was smiling and continued to write.
I’m writer, storyteller and online marketer Connie Ragen Green, living a life I could not have imagined, and writing the stories that need to be told. Come along with me, if you will and together we will explore the far reaches of the thoughts and ideas that inhabit our minds. In the process, our lives will be forever changed and intertwined and everything will be possible.
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