Dear Diary, hello again.

18 Sep

Learning to write right for digital media is all about a little thing our professor, Daren likes to call “webbifying”. While I’m quickly learning what it takes to please an impatient audience looking for a good web read, sometimes I need a little help. So I handed over my Dear Diary blog post to my writing partner, Ashlie to shed some light on how to keep my readers happy. While Ashlie edited, I pondered how to better present my post in a way that entertains the whole way through.

Dear Diary:  Take two…

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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 cross-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 the 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 forever 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 rest of the presents piled high on the kitchen table 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 11th birthday party my mother so carefully planned, but I do remember this; the moment the cake was eaten and streamers pulled down, I was writing in that diary. 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 admire it’s sharpness from time to time?

As I grow older, I aspire to write more. “This year I resolve to start writing,” always wins in a match against weight loss. Who would have thought it took a tuition check to finally start?

There is still a part of me that reaches for my diary to record the simple and honest words I once did as little girl. Inevitably, something gets in the way. I wish it wouldn’t. Maybe the best place to start is with this:

Dear Diary,

I’m too busy to write, and I don’t know what to say. My bills are due and my cat just peed on the rug. Check in later.

Emily

Nothing heavy, but at least it’s honest. And that’s better than nothing. These are the cold, hard facts that make our lives worth reliving as we thumb through the old dusty pages of our diary. If I don’t start with this, I fear I’ll completely forget those details in one fell swoop of a busy schedule. I can see it now. I’m an old woman, wizened and gray, my memory misty from the cloud of old age that hangs over my stooped shoulders. The only savior of my fading memory is my beloved diary. For this reason, I must write.

To provoke inspiration in his students, Daren asked our class to reflect on our earliest writings. Dear diary immediately came 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. Stine collection. To entertain you all; 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!

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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.

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While in search of dear diary, I stumbled upon a poetry book I wrote for an English class assignment in the seventh grade. Like my diary, I poured myself into school assignments that challenged my writing. So, for our next round; 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”, 7th grade vernacular for crazy, 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.

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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 and wish I wouldn’t. 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. I’m still trying to figure our my own unique voice. But that’s where this class comes in. Perhaps my writing style will grow with the clarity I gain from writing for myself. Not for the paycheck, the grade or notoriety, but for the shear hilarity of reading and remembering many years later.

The Best and Worst Times of Poetry

About the Author: The Best & Worst Times of Poetry, Emily Graban

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One Response to “Dear Diary, hello again.”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. A reason to rewrite « ashliewhite - September 18, 2011

    […] an exciting process. Thanks to an incredibly kind and encouraging critique by my writing partner, Emily, and professor, Daren, here is my attempt to rewrite my first blogpost for digital […]

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