Celebrate: Writing Day

Although I missed Writing Day by a couple of weeks (October 20th, so essentially a month by the time I post this), I must have known it was happening somewhere in my core. I’m led to believe this because I’ve had an ache that I’m attempting to soothe by writing, for a short time each day, during the month of November.

As part of this, I’m trying to work more writing prompts into my writing practice. (If this is of interest to you, I encourage you to check out Allison Fallon’s website and Instagram.)

So, I ask you (and myself), What was the first time you remember writing?

My first clear memory of writing is from 1996. I was in Mrs. Kindig’s second grade class, and the topic was Pandas. We had to pick an animal, and I was very careful to pick one whose rareness rivaled its cuteness. Illustrations were also part of this DIY book, and I remember being surprisingly proud of my rendition of the black-and-white-patterned creature. Drawing was and is still not my forte, so I welcomed the writing portion with open arms. With a flourish of elementary-level adjectives, I described the crunchy bamboo, the soft grass, and distant China. I can remember that my first favorite word–one that I used anytime I could–was immense. So, naturally, the pandas lived in an immense country and were immensely adorable. Although most phrases and sentences were playful and happy, the difficult truth I had to address in this tale was the precarious world pandas live in. With shrinking habitants and decreasing numbers, pandas were and are an endangered species. Endangered. I knew danger was not good, and I equated “en” with “in,” so the word was easily defined. Internally, I thought, “I don’t want to write a tragedy!”

And my mind switched to dodo birds. Again, judging by the name, I knew this creature was not the wisest of fowl yet, from Alice and Wonderland, I knew of its existence, and I also knew there were not any dodos in the world anymore. As my wheels turned, and I processed the reality of the panda situation, I was sad. However, I also realized they weren’t gone yet. They were in wildlife reserves and zoos and the wild. And maybe, just maybe, there was hope. Beyond hope, I needed to make–and would eventually make–the jump to action. Because, even if the issue isn’t saving the pandas, hope can’t sit still. It acts, it protects, it perseveres.

I don’t remember if I got a good grade on my panda project, but I do know I’ve never forgotten about pandas. I look for them when I’m at the zoo, because it’s rare to find one. Thinking back on that first memory of writing, I see its power. I see how I cannot process without it, and I cannot seem to bloom without it. Although speaking comes much more naturally for me, and verbalizing is helpful, the page has no history, no agenda, no advice. As neutral as a person can attempt to be, they cannot rival the page.

So, I must return to writing daily with the curiosity of a second-grader learning more about the world around her–learning more about life, struggle, and hope. It shows me how I’ve grown, and it shows me how much growing I have yet to do. But it never mettles, never judges. It’s just available as a simple tool to be everyday, and I pray to never take it for granted.

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