I have always loved to write.
Well, first I loved to read.
The first full length book I read was “The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore” one of a set of books my mother had given me just before we moved to a ‘far away land’ with no television in 1962. I remember the excitement and satisfaction I felt at that accomplishment. From there, I graduated to “Tom Swift”, “The Hardy Boys”, and the “You Are There” biographies. The ‘far away land’ that my family moved to was Tehran, Iran, where access to english-speaking television was slim to none, and my brother and I had to find other ways to entertain ourselves.
My adventure with writing started at that time, as I began writing letters to friends back home in order to stay in touch. Eight year olds, for the most part, are notoriously bad at correspondence, and with most of my letters receiving no response I soon began to keep a diary instead. My fourth grade English teacher, a terrifying former Army Colonel, was a writer and encouraged me to start writing stories. When we returned home in 1965, I brought with me my story collection on a stack of white notebook paper scribbled in longhand, and a love of writing.
My re-entry into the pre-teen world of 1965 America was not smooth. My clothes were prudish and I had never heard of the Beatles. I knew algebra, played soccer and had studied three languages, including Latin. In the world of mini-skirts, fishnet hose, cigarettes and rock & roll, I was definitely a fish out of water. In my social isolation, I kept to what I knew best, reading and writing.
In the spring of 1966, when I was in sixth grade, I decided to submit one of my stories to the school’s literary club contest. It was one of my science fiction/fantasy stories (I had discovered Andre Norton and Robert Heinlein by then) and I was very excited as I polished and re-wrote the piece. At the final school assembly the winners were announced. I remember the incredible nervousness I felt waiting for the announcements, and the burst of joy when I received an Honorable Mention. I proceeded to the stage to get my prize with the other winners. The teacher worked her way through the group, praising and handing a small trophy to each winner. When she got to me she got a blank look on her face, told me there was no trophy for honorable mention and I should not have come up, and shooed me off the stage. Humiliated, I walked the thousand miles back to my seat, never shedding a tear, shrugging and trying to pretend it didn’t matter to me.
Except for what was required for school and later on for work, I didn’t write again for forty years.
Almost all of us have similar stories of having a creative endeavor crushed as a child, usually the result of a careless comment from an unthinking parent or teacher. Joyful singing, exuberant dancing, a crayon masterpiece, a lovingly crafted mud sculpture dismissed as ugly, useless, unimportant had us bury our creative selves. As we continued on with what was perceived to be the more important things in our lives our personal creativity, the ability to express ourselves in our own unique way, got lost.
As we get older, rediscovering and engaging that creative side of ourselves can bring us a renewed sense of joy and perhaps even a new purpose (remember Grandma Moses?).
If you have been having the feeling lately that there is something missing in your life, try this.
Start by remembering what it was you most enjoyed doing as a child, before the age of ten. Usually it was something creative, a form of play.
What was it that caused you to stop this joyous activity?
What story did you create about why you couldn’t do it anymore?
Identifying and allowing ourselves to let go of stories that we have had for many years can be difficult and may require us to practice forgiveness, for ourselves and others. Once we realize we are no longer the child who made up the story, that isn’t so hard! Hey, who wants to be run by a nine-year old anyway? Unless, of course, they are having fun!
Myra Oney is a certified Health and Wellness Coach. Her business, Keys To Vital Health, is dedicated to providing information and services to people who are serious about creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. She is available to speak and give workshops to community groups and businesses, as well as for individual coaching. For more information go to her website www.MyraOneyHealthCoaching.com or email her at Myra@MyraOneyHealthCoaching.com