When I was 7, I was diagnosed with a rare disease called Histiocytosis. Histio is kind of like cancer. I’ll write about it at some point. For now, don’t worry too much about it, it’s just a lead in to the real story. My school, likely worried about the psychological effects cancer might have on a child, had me go talk to the school counselor every once in a while. I have no idea what we talked about, or what I confided to her about, but I do remember her handing me a simply made journal with her simply put words:
“Write about it.”
I didn’t. At least, not in the pink construction paper monstrosity she gave me. I remember trying, but my biggest road block was knowing WHERE to start. At the beginning, aka, my birth? Or when my spine was starting to give out? Do I only talk about my health, or do I also talk about my parents fighting? In my 7-year-old mind, you start writing books at the beginning all the way to the end. You couldn’t just start writing. So instead of writing my story down in her book, I started writing in a diary.
I have always been a journaler (journalist?). I have almost always had a journal. There we go. I have never been great at keeping up a routine of journaling, and I’ve only ever used a journal to its full capacity twice in my life. I have a stack of “unfinished” diaries sitting on my bookshelf. Will I ever write in them again? Probably not. I’ve pulled unused pages from them for art projects. But other than that they are just a metaphor for wasted opportunities, and a warning of my future as a hoarder. My journals were where I escaped from fighting parents, and angsty teen romance. Journals were a place to sort through everything. Mostly ranting about how frusterated I was with school or my health or my parents. It is also where all my unfinished songs got written.
I have always been a reader. As a child, more often than not my allowance was spent on books over toys. Costco used to sell combo packs of Nancy Drew books, and they’d last me a day or two before I was thirsting for more. My elementary school librarian let me borrow books that hadn’t been stickered yet, after I ran out of books to read that were already on shelves. My mother would take books away as her go-to method of punishment. Roald Dahl’s Matilda was my prime role model. I read in the car, at the table, in the bath, on the toilet, under the blankets with a flashlight, in the closet with the doors closed. Books were better than movies, more intricate than my Barbie doll plots, and great for my insomnia. Actually, it’s possible I gave myself insomnia from staying up to read as a child. My digestion of books has unfortunately slowed down over the years, but my bookshelves are always and have always been on the verge of collapsing.
I love new paper. I love the scent, I love the texture, I love the look. I don’t think you understand how much I love paper. In school I always had way too much paper in my binders, simply because I liked the look of it. I have a drawer full of stationary I have hardly even used. I have wasted so much paper in my life, half of deforestation is probably adolescent Raelee’s fault. Instead of listening to my classes, I was doodling on my fresh, crisp, lined paper. I think the only reason I am a note taker is because of the paper. The smell of a freshly sharpened pencil writing on a fresh sheet of paper is one of my favorite things. I am constantly collecting pens from hotels, restaurants, and banks. I bought a 15 pack of highlighters, just because they were pretty.
I had a blog about riding on the bus for goodness sakes.
Have I properly elaborated on my obvious Writer Potential? Because I need you to see how obvious it has been all my life that I am a writer, as blind as I have been.
I think the reason that it never hit me sooner was because of the difficulties I had in high school. I was the weirdo who liked timed essays. I wouldn’t have admitted it then, and it was probably fueled in part by the adrenaline rush, but gee I got so pumped! Making sure I had two pencils or pens ready to go, always an excess of paper, “just in case.” But I didn’t get the greatest grades. As a society that is driven by immediate rewards, don’t even start to judge little Raelee for being dissuaded because of a grade. I took AP English in a highly academically competitive high school, and anytime I got a 3 instead of a 5 I felt like a joke, let alone the dreaded 2 scores. I use way too many words in my writing, and way too many commas. I have a hard time focusing my writing on one topic, I’m bad at providing evidence to prove my arguments, and I absolutely, with a passion, HATE writing drafts. If I’m feeling particularly motivated, I’ll maybe write an outline. So really, from an academic perspective I’m not great at writing, but it’s all my own fault. I’ve also never been a huge fan of fiction writing. I’ve tried my hand at it countless times but had little success. It is on my list of things to work on, however I write a lot of lists that get lost.
I’ve never called myself a writer before. But recently I’ve realized that writing is possibly the only thing keeping my overheating-Gemini mind even semi-focused. So, I’ve been writing a lot. And I feel like I should do something with it other than have a never-ending word document on my laptop. At first my daydreaming mind said “A Book!”, but what I need in my life right now is routine and structure. People have been telling me forever to write (ok my mom and a few counselors but still). So why not embrace the Writer?
And that’s the long-winded explanation for why I’ve started up this blog.