I started writing about my life in elementary school. For my eighth birthday, one of my gifts was a small diary with a latch and tiny key that I hid somewhere my parents and younger siblings couldn’t find, and I poured my heart out onto its blank pages:
“Today Kenneth kept aiming the ball at me during dodgeball. I think he likes me.”
Hey, what do you want? I was eight!
I didn’t write every day, but I developed a habit, a practice if you will, of writing whenever something exciting or dreadful happened. It was my therapy before I even knew what therapy was, and has continued to play that role as I approach my seventh decade on the planet.
It wasn’t until recently that I started referring to myself as “a writer.” Even though I’d written scripts for documentaries in my 20s, and legal briefs in my 30s, and research papers when I went back to school to get my Masters in Counseling Psychology in my 40s. It wasn’t until I started working on a memoir that I dared to don the title of “writer.”
And now, in the second half-century of my life (assuming I live as long as my gene pool suggests I might), I am a writer. I have recently come out of retirement to facilitate The Write Way writing circles. And later this year (2017) one of my pieces will be published in an anthology of other wanna-be memoir writers.
Writing has saved my life. It has given me great joy. It has helped me get my head on straight. It has been a mirror when I needed one. And when I go back and read what I wrote years ago, it allows me to acknowledge that I have, in fact, grown. That the intervening years haven’t been a waste of time, but rather a life fully lived.
The proof is right there, on the page.