When I was about 7 or 8 years old, I read Stone Fox and Tigers Eye cover to cover a hundred times easy. Lying on my bedroom floor, in the backseat of the car, in the booths of restaurants, in waiting rooms, in the dugout at softball practice. The way those stories made me feel forever changed the way I saw the magic of words and they morphed my innocent little-girl dreams into vivid action-packed movies with daring characters who were never afraid to feel the full range of emotions that whirl winded within them.
Perhaps my story with words goes back further than that. I'm sure it was equally fostered by the hours spent in my mother's lap watching while she read Stephen King, John Grisham, and other novelists. Studying her face as it reacted to the gore, mystery, and suspense she indulged in. I remember wondering what could be written on those pages that kept her so focused and ready to pick up another book as soon as the last chapter ended. It was also my first lesson in learned behavior: I was her little monkey and I was determined to one day know what all of the fuss was about. And indeed, I did. So much so that reading was no longer enough for me.
I wrote my first book in 2nd grade, another in 3rd, and before I knew it a new love was born. I wasn't just passionate about reading, but also about writing. Maybe even more so. I couldn't quite tell. While my grade school era stories weren't very intricate or impressive, I saw myself in them and I still do. I also saw my favorite parts of the people I love tucked away in the bodies of my characters. I had unintentionally tied my two worlds together without realizing it. It dawned on me that I could use my experiences, environment, and perspective to create a whole new world filled with whatever I desired. Whatever I needed to release at the time. And It was all made possible with the simple beauty that is words.
I don't consider myself verbally artistic. Never in the history of me have I had an eloquent quip at just the right moment. What I want to say during an argument normally doesn't rush to me until the moment has passed. When people speak to me about their feelings and emotions, I awkwardly freeze with discomfort. Sure, I'm snarky, sarcastic, a little off center, and I do find the way my speech often fumbles, to be a personal charm. None the less, it's writing where I discover how I really feel, what my aspirations truly are, how I'll interpret my dreams, as well as how I paint the canvas of my desires, hopes, love, hate, rage, etc.
I suppose that my verbal genius is buried somewhere with any potential for musical talent. And while they are both something I wish I possessed, I am at ease with the fact that written word has always saved me. Saved me from my own thoughts, allowed me to creatively express myself, given me a professional edge through the years, motivated me to embrace higher education, hell, even my love of lyrics, poetry, screenwriting, and research. It all comes from my fascination with the endless ways we can manipulate words.
We all share the same words and are only separated by the diversity of intent and inflection by way of region and culture. We have the option to be nomadic with words through language, film, and music. But what helps separate us, our intent, our sentiments, the roots of our expression…is how we each manipulate words to identify what we mean, want, and think. I have spent a lot of time harboring my thoughts and the piles of pages I have written like I have everything to lose by sharing them. Now, I am on the dawn of change. Ready to turn my next page.
So, while I'll likely never pick up a guitar and fulfill my dream of turning my poetry into songs that fill my soul with sound and express the deepest caverns that hollow through me, I will continue to admire the work of so many others and humbly put my own artistic contributions out into the universe. Being thankful for what I do have, my own passionate and thoughtful relationship with words. What I have come to realize is that I have been repeatedly healed and understood by the words of others that I come across and I am only limiting myself and feeding my fear by not releasing my own out into the world. So whether they are received lovingly or with discontent, I am done hiding them in the shadows of my desk and filing cabinet. Like inevitable storms after the calm, they are coming.
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