Dear Diary, help this writer write.

5 Sep

This blog post is for the teacher, mother, mentor or doting family member of all the budding young writers out there. Encourage your little loved ones to write. It’s the best gift you can give…That, and a diary with an extra strong lock.

In short: Write for you, only you…and on occasion the bill paying boss. 

I was four years old the first time I wrote my name. I sat crossed legged on the living room floor under the blocky coffee table my father proudly purchased at a garage sale. Red crayon in hand, I methodically mimicked the loops and lines of the letters seen on the preschool chalkboard.

E. Be careful. This one has three railroad tracks.

M. This one looks mean! Mwhaaaahaaaahaaaa!

I. Down. That’s an easy one.

L. Down and over. Easy too!

Y.  It’s a V with a tail.

I still remember that gratifying sense of achievement as I stared down at the blue construction paper and realized what I had done. There, scrawled in ragged red crayon strokes was my name, Emily. From then on I wrote on everything – notebooks, magazines, newspapers, walls and on occasion, furniture. I was sold. Writing was my unique gift, and one that I opened with joy.

Seven years later, my best friend Rachel gave me a green, hard-backed journal for my eleventh birthday. It was the best gift I got that year. The desire for the rest of those perfectly wrapped presents piled high on the kitchen table completely faded as I turned one perfectly gold-lined page over the next. I closed the journal, flipping it over for a full inspection. Wide eyed, I marveled at the equestrian hunting scene screen-printed on its hard front cover. It was awesome. It had a built-in ribbon that would bookmark the pages of my best-kept secrets.

I can barely recall the details of that birthday party my mother so carefully planned, but I do remember this – the moment the cake was eaten and dishes were washed, I was writing in that diary. Once again with red crayon, I branded it mine, “If lost please return to” inscribed on the inside cover. That diary was mine. It was official.

Now, at age 28, I find it daunting to write for just myself. My thoughts, feelings and emotions about the day don’t exactly pay the bills or command notoriety. Instead, I push life’s irrelevant details aside with a half-guilty conscience, wondering occasionally what my 11-year-old self would think. Admittedly, I’m a little ashamed. What’s the point of hanging your shiniest tool on the workshop wall if only to loan it out?

As an adult, I often wish I would write more. “This year I resolve to start writing,” always wins in a match against weight loss. Who would have thought it look a tuition check to finally start?

So when asked to reflect on my earliest writings, dear diary comes to mind. With searchlight turned on, I dug through piles of me memorabilia hoping to uncover my old journal. And there it was, at the bottom of an old cardboard box, next to my R.L. Stein collection. To entertain you all, I post a passage of my childhood memoir in all its glory.

February 2, 1994

Dear Diary,

Hi! I’m in my bedroom being punished for nothing. My stupid brother and sister were teasing me again and calling me the dumbest name in history!!! Stumbalina! I gotta go!

……………………………………….………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

April 9, 1994

Dear Diary,

Yesterday my family went to the Ortelle’s and their son Mike and I got in a fight. I’ll tell you EXACTLY what happened:

First, everybody was throwing snowballs at each other, and I hit one in Mike’s face. It hurt him. He pushed me, and then I pushed him back. After, he pushed me again, he tried to punch me two or three times, but I dodged them all. Then my brother started harassing Mike. Then Mike *kissed me. It didn’t even hurt. I was so steaming, so I punched him then kicked him in the shin. Then he kicked me in the knee and it hurt so bad. I fell on the road and hit my knee again. I know I tore something. I just know it.   

Emily

*I think I meant kicked me. I vividly remember the little jerk walloping me in the knee with his rollerblade. To this day, this is the only fight I’ve ever been in.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

While in search of dear diary, I stumbled upon a poetry book I wrote for an English class assignment in the seventh grade. For our next round, I present writings from The Best & Worst Times of Poetry, by Emily Graban, May 10, 1996, Mrs. Middelton’s Class 7A7 (whatever that means). I would like to mention that I got an A+ on this beauty. Shocking considering I called Mrs. Middelton “cray” in my prologue.

Oh Bury Me Not Under A Tree

 Oh bury me not under a tree

These words came high and happily

From the ruby red lips

Of a girl who lay

On her fluffy bed one day.

Oh bury me not under a tree

Where the squirrels run wild with jubilee

In a narrow hole just six by three,

Oh bury me not under a tree.

 

Oh bury me not under a tree

Where the children play over me,

Where the robin sails and the wind blows free,

Oh bury me not under a tree.

 

And they didn’t bury me under a tree

‘Cause I haven’t died yet mournfully.

But the squirrels still run and the children play free.

And I won’t be buried under a tree.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

These samples are my first attempts at writing about a subject of which I know best – the subject of me. My collection of confessions and juvenile poetry prove a past love for something I now take for granted. So I leave readers with this – I, Emily Graban, red crayon in hand, resolve to write more. Not just about work, not just about school, but about me.

In his classic essay, How to Write with Style, Kurt Vonnegut writes, “It is the genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.”

Well-said Vonnegut. Perhaps my own unique writing style will grow with the clarity I gain from writing for myself. Not for the paycheck, not the notoriety, but for the shear hilarity of reading it 17 years later.

Key words: Writing; Digital Media; Kurt Vonnegut; How to Write with Style; Journal Entry; Diary Entry; Memoir; Memoire; Improve Writing Skills; Young Writers

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One Response to “Dear Diary, help this writer write.”

  1. Carla Doty September 7, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    Emily – Looking forward to following your journey through graduate school and your musings. Carla

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