#28HourWritingChallenge : The Child’s Journey

Hour One

So, I’ve decided to commit to a 28 hour writing practice, one hour per day 5 days per week and two 4 hour “retreat” sessions. I’ve been a writer ever since I was little. I remember writing and presenting my first story in elementary school – carefully written out, with chapters and illustrations, in a 49 cent composition book. I won an award for it, but more than anything I remember the feeling of pride and self worth that grew in me from my teachers’ encouragement and praises. I was an awkward, asthmatic child from a poor family who didn’t quite know how to interact with other kids. So I escaped in books and hung out with adults – soaking in everything that I could. My parents were rather overprotective, probably due to my health (I was asthmatic, frequently sick, prone to injuries, and had a troubling condition that led to very frequent joint dislocations – none of which is very conducive to a child hood of wild play). I remember, although we lived in a pretty rural area where all of the houses (ok, trailers) were on acre+ lots, that I was seldom allowed to ride a bike beyond the outside perimeter of the fence. So most of my play was confined to the acre that we lived on, which meant lots of make believe stories, but it also meant that I was forced to examine every inch of that land, truly getting to know the trees and the flowers (this was west central Florida, near Tampa, so it was mostly sand and weeds) and the insects (SO MANY INSECTS) and the birds (we had a hawk that liked to hang out in the scrub behind the house). It was this way that I first heard the voices of the spirits of the land, first made my connection with the earth and the stars.

When I was too sick, or it was too hot, or I grew child-like bored with the outside world, or was having trouble making sense of life, I devoured books like they were my only source of nutrition. Books were my sustenance, my escape, my way of trying to make sense of things I could see and intuit but did not understand. Over the summers I would complete every book club challenge I could find. Finally, I volunteered at the library for a couple of years. As always, I was the youngest person, and I remember thinking it was odd that I was always the only young person around and how the adults treated me because of it.

I had a few close friends in middle school, and we let our geek side show in chorus and dubbing ourselves the Sailor Moon posse (I was Jupiter). The school chorus was definitely my first real engagement with competition and basing worth on performance. I loved to sing, but chorus killed the joy of it.

Gosh, so many stories.

I continued to write and draw, but it was in high school that my talent really took off. By then I had decided to ‘own’ my status of ‘freak’ and went Goth my Freshman year. It made it easier, giving everyone a reason to treat me differently, and gave me an automatic network of friends. Freaks gotta stick together. That was my first taste of ‘tribe’. I loved those people dearly, and we all faced the same bullshit from our peers (though we all dealt with it in our own ways). Ever the ambassador and world-bridger, I remained friends with many of the studious and popular crowd, but knew that they never really understood me.

It was always the adult figures that made an impact on my life, and I had some amazingly supportive teachers all throughout school. My junior year, I started taking classes with Ms. Seaman, who insisted I call her by her first name, Michelle. She was a poet, performer, and priestess and I had seriously begun my studies of Wicca and writing. She was the first to honestly and supportively critique my writing, and I felt so legitimized by her support and encouragement. I still have the assignment I turned in where she wrote in flowing purple letters “I am honored to call you student – You are a poet!”

It was through her class my senior year that I unlocked the Mystery, and I wrote my first “channeled” piece that I then performed at an event she put together. From there, I was hooked and began regularly performing my poetry around town.

I did more writing during my various stints in college, and was published in a couple of college journals. But though I never shied from performing, it has always been challenging for me to publish.

Since becoming an adult, I’ve gone through phases of writing and creativity, with long (LONG) dry spells. This capitalist, patriarchal world we live in sure tries to beat the creativity and enchantment out of you. Add to it a lifetime of being poor in finances and health, and I’m kind of amazed at what I have accomplished.

But lately, the barrier I encounter feels almost entirely self-constructed. After a period of intense creative output, I’ve gone dry. I’ve barely been able to bring myself to write a thing, and when I do the stress is intense – even if I never intend for anyone to read it. I’m not certain where it comes from. Part of it is a sense of inadequacy – that child who never fit in and never felt good enough. It seems like the more I engage with the blogosphere, with community, with other writers, the less I feel like anything I have to say is important. Which I know is not true. But sometimes I feel very “Bill and Ted” (we’re not worthy!).

So I’m just going to bust through that. I’ve gotten countless messages lately that I need to be writing, to be sharing, to fight my way out of the fog and cobwebs I’ve built up around myself and get back to my authentic shining self (ugh, I hate that word – ‘authentic’).

I have no idea what this challenge will bring. I have some projects I’ve been working on and set aside, but I have no goals or intentions for WHAT exactly I’m going to write. There’s a lot of processing I need to do, and I think the hardest thing for me isn’t going to be the writing, but sharing some of that writing. Which isn’t really the point of this… but I think that for me, it is. That’s where my fear lies, so that is what I have to face to break down the barrier that is preventing me from writing at all.

So, here we go.

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