the seventh

What impacted your life to cause you to begin expressing yourself through writing; what is it about you that makes you free to express yourself so well in writing? — Edna
Thank you for the compliments. I’m always glad to hear that someone thinks I express myself so well. That my writing seems to be so free.
My thoughts are so jumbled in my head that I struggle with expressing them daily. That I am so certain not that many people will care about what it is I have to say. If by some chance they do care what I think, I won’t say it right because those thoughts can come forth in this mad rush, this chaotic blur…or they’ll be so clear, so concise, so opinionated, so offensive that I’ll hurt someone with some careless comment.
To be honest, I don’t really care if I say something that upsets a stranger or even a distant acquaintance. I’m an opinionated girl. I cherish this, actually, this ability to spout off a thought without concern for consequence. But sometimes, I accidentally say something that a family member or close friend finds offensive, and I hurt because I’ve hurt that person.
But you asked what caused me to begin writing, what impacted me to willingly take pen to paper.
In sixth grade, my language arts teacher told me I could write. She tried to convince me I had a talent for it. But, back then, I didn’t think I was good at anything, and while I was happy that she could find something about me to compliment, while I held onto this thought, I had a hard time believing it. I’d heard so often that I had nothing to offer anyone, really. The bad stuff’s always easier to believe.
At fourteen, my mother made my younger brother and I enter a poetry contest a local daily paper had to celebrate Independence Day. Grudgingly, we wrote our poems. Mine won first prize in my age group — fourteen to seventeen. Joseph’s won second in his — seven to ten. I got a large flag, a framed copy of my work and a plaque. I remember being sort of surprised that I’d won, sort of glad. But, still, I didn’t think of myself as that good a writer, and I didn’t much like writing then, anyway.
The first time I wrote a poem because I wanted to was on March 3, 1995. I’d been feeling particularly gloomy that day and was bored, waiting for Joseph to get out of class. While I waited, I pulled out a pen and spiral, pulled out a poem from my head.
It wasn’t a very good poem, not in the literary sense. But it was remarkable, really, in that, while I was writing it, I’d felt sort of like I was having some kind of out-of-body experience. Like I’d switched off my conscious self and let the subconscious take over.
When I’d finished it and I became aware of my surroundings again, I felt a coldness in my soul, like I’d stripped myself of something. I looked down at what I’d written in this daze, this wonder that I’d pulled this thing from me.
It wasn’t a good poem. I knew this. The words and phrases were ones most would consider cliché. It lacked imagery. But there was a sense of rage and sadness, of hope and fear, of loneliness, of all the things I’d been feeling at that particular moment, and I was amazed that those emotions had all come so freely, so willingly. Not that I never expressed them. But I’d been practicing for the past few years keeping them restrained, except around my family. If I ever showed them to others outside my familial circle, it was a mere glimpse, a fraction of their intensity. I’d learned not to express them because not too many people wanted to see them.

But there they were.
And it had made me feel a little better to write them out in that way.
previous essays: the fourth, the fifth, the sixth.

One response to “the seventh”

  1. I used to write poetry when I was in high school. It wasn't very good either, but it felt amazing to express myself that way. I got discouraged, though, and quit writing poetry. I was really self-conscious about my writing for a long time. I wish I hadn't quit writing poetry. Sometimes I feel that inkling to write a poem, but never know where to start.

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