If you find yourself mired in the dreaded writer’s block, get one of these. Forget the colorful desk and the apple, go to the “Back to School” section and get yourself an old-fashioned marble composition book.
It was most likely something you were “forced” to write in as a child. The smartest teachers had you invest in these, rather than loose leaf or spiral bound notebooks,whose pages could be torn out and easily discarded. These were the ones you could keep; the ones that recorded your thoughts, feelings and activities on a day-to-day basis. These were the words that you could share with your parents and teachers; the ones that reflected the progress in your command of language, grammar, even your penmanship.
These were not the books that included your innermost thoughts and secrets; those were locked away in a diary; a hard-bound book that came with a tiny key, to insure your privacy; at least that’s what we were told. I was given diaries often as a child; I never used them. I should probably say that I was afraid of using them. Some memories were better left unrecorded; until a time when I could look back and reflect with a bit of distance. Bygones.
I didn’t get it until I stumbled upon it by accident; the “it” in this case being the power of the pen-in-hand writing process. My children were in elementary school when I became an active and enthusiastic volunteer; giving over hours of my time daily to whatever activities or programs needed parental support. It was heaven for me. I was back into the teaching mode that I had been denied after college graduation. The timing was all wrong then. Life, with all its complexities, merely got in the way; leaving my academic credentials unappreciated and my once-exalted teaching skills, unused. Until now.
It was such a thrill to be involved in the school community without being paid. I could come and go as I pleased, choosing where to help and where to back off to let my kids breathe.
From a very early age, I was drawn to being a teacher. One of my prized possessions at the age of 3 was a chalkboard with a rubber-tipped pointer. I could not yet write, or spell, but there were scribbles all over that board, and my dolls were propped up in perfect attendance. I credit my parents for their forward thinking; or maybe it was a sign of the times and I was being directed toward one of the only two careers that Dad believed were appropriate for women of the early 1960’s; teaching or nursing. His was a self-fulfilling prophecy; my oldest sister became a nurse, the next 2, including myself ,were trained as teachers. (I chose the words “trained as” carefully, since neither one of us stayed with the profession for long.)
Without exception, every job I had involved both writing and teaching in some form. I was paid for doing what I loved, but the creative beast in me went unrecognized. That came when I over-purchased school supplies for my kids and ended up with my own black marble notebook.
It started with a tribute to my mother, lost to cancer over a decade before. The second entry was a poem to honor a young student who was being monitored by Social Services staff for possible child abuse in the home. These two entries opened up the creative floodgates for me. There was an almost effortless connection from brain to hand to pen, and into that simple black marble notebook. I still go to it today. The computer keyboard is more efficient; but pen to paper…that is where the good stuff comes alive.