Reflections on personal growth
|To my left is a stack of eight journals. I’m writing this in another; in front of me, close enough to touch, are two more. The bookcase to my left contains four more, for a total of fifteen. Ten of then are the same style, four in brown and six in blue.|
Some journals are full, some half used. I’ve taken to using the first ten pages as a table of contents. I use Roman numerals to indicate this section, and write the other page numbers in by hand. The one I’m using has only a few pages left. I began at the top of page 363 and here is page 366. In have until page 374 to get this written.
On my desk is a coffee mug reading “I don’t need Google, my mom knows everything,” which contains pencils, pens, highlighters, and bookmarks. In the desk drawer, there are more gel pens—G2’s my favorite—packages of sticky notes, a ruler, and a red stapler. This room contains the trappings of a writer.
The arrangement is ridiculous, ludicrous, absurd. I’ve barricaded myself in with paper, hoping to keep doubt away. I close my eyes and click my heels together, hoping for the burst of brilliance that changes everything, the burst of brilliance that grants me confidence, the burst of brilliance that never arrives.
I doubt my worth as a writer. I know I’ve improved, but the incremental growth is unsatisfying. I want a parade, complete with marching band and confetti, to tell me I’ve arrived. I long for validation.
Instead, I found an old journal entry.
The notebook is not a journal at all, just a one subject ring binder. I kept it because one of my sons drew in it, and the other one wrote his name on the cover. Inside are missives telling our kids we’ve gone to the library, a list of people up for election, what might have been research, and a lot of blank pages.
On the first page is a journal entry from April 5, 2010.
The discovery was surprising, and glancing at it, it appears not much has happened in twelve years. I struggle with many of the problems that challenged me then. I still ask the same questions and resist things I have to accept. Still, twelve years later, I can see the growth I’ve undergone. The problems are less overwhelming. I’ve traveled from “that’s impossible” to “that’s difficult, from “it’s difficult” to “yeah, okay.”
Today, I dug into my desk and pulled out my attempt at a novel. I wrote it in epistolary form. It was lacking: no fully defined characters, no plot, no subtlety. I went heavy on telling instead of showing. I preached. I wrote this in 2017.
I switched to fanfiction. The fanfiction folder in my port holds dozens of stories. Some are unfinished, some are earlier drafts, but I have accomplished much more than I did with my proto-book on Charity and David, Marjorie and Avery. I’m invested in How to Train Your Dragon, and I have enthusiasm for the work. Up to about six years ago, I believed I would never write fiction. Four years ago, I refused to believe I’d write fanfiction, because my writing was going to be meaningful.
You see how far that thinking got me. The characters I write about teach me. I’ve written about family and pain, love and miscommunication, and always about relationships. The more I dig into Hiccup and Toothless, Astrid and Fishlegs, Stoick and Gobber, the more I discover about these characters, human nature, and myself. The thoughts that spill out of my head and onto the paper are worthwhile, and questioning whether I’m any good is begging the answer “Of course!”