From Notebooks to Novels

I don’t remember exactly when writing became a part of my life, but I know it was long before I knew that I wanted to be a writer. I only knew that writing offered a way to say the things I couldn’t tell anyone. I only know that it was a very private thing, a secret expression of who I was. I knew that it was all I had.

It started somewhere between when my 14-year-old self gave up on the world and when my 17-year-old self gave the world a second chance. I think my first notebook was probably picked up in a Hot Topic, probably along with a pack of plastic lip rings and a stack of discounted Johnny the Homicidal Maniac comics.

I don’t remember when the journals became a part of my daily life, but I do remember there became a time where they were pulled out multiple times a day. I remember trying different pens and inks and even wondering about writing with coffee or even my own blood. Now that would be a true self-expression.

Like my first love, I longed to spend all my time with writing and searched for ways to bring us closer than was probably possible or healthy. I remember that I bought new journals before I could finish the old one, hoping that I could write better with a cover that really represented who I was. I remember I lost one on a bus somewhere and I still feel the loss of it as a tiny hole in my heart.

I don’t remember what I wrote about; I know it was a lot of “sad girl” stuff. I know I was lost, and I know I was angry. More than anything, though, I was lonely. I wrote about being depressed before I knew what it was and I wrote about love before I knew what that was too. I doodled and painted. I wrote my name over and over again, trying to make it into something beautiful and real.

I still have some of them. I keep them in boxes under the basement stairs and whenever I see them I feel a strange combination of love for my younger self who poured herself into them and shame that my deepest, and very often foolish and dramatic, feelings exist in a physical form. A form that anyone might come looking and see.

I don’t remember exactly when those journals moved from paper things to digital things, but I remember spending time on old computers learning HTML and typing away on online diaries along with other “sad girls.” I remember the thrill of making my feelings public and fearing that someone in my family might read them one day.

I wish I could still log into my old Open Diary account. The first place I ever met other sad, lonely girls like myself. I felt free when I wrote there and just like the paper journals that came before I wrote there multiple times a day. I was obsessed. I could change the look of it to suit whoever I was that day, and I could delete one and make another whenever I wanted to start over.

I don’t remember exactly when I first heard the term blogging or associated it with something I was, or wanted, to do, but I know I was doing it long before I learned the word. I moved from Open Diary to many different blogging platforms over the years, and each one was abandoned and forgotten eventually. I read other people’s blogs and fell in love with their lives only to have them abandon the medium, and me, too.

The freedom I felt at first always turned to fear. Fear of being found out. Fear that my family and friends might read my secrets and know more about me than I wanted. That felt like too much of a loss of power, but the feeling of being understood was too attractive, and I always came back to the online world of journalling.

I don’t remember when I decided that I would like to take the next step and write about who I was and what I felt under my own name, but it was around the time I began to connect the act of personal expression to becoming a published author. I know I hoped that by ceasing to hide behind usernames and convoluted email address I might be able to take this form of expression from notebooks to a novel.

I find myself moving from those private journals of my teenage years to more and more public writing every day. I set out to practice the craft and have ended up revealing more and more of myself to strangers. I am slowly learning to cope with my friends and family seeing me this way too.

I might not remember the details of how or when, but I feel that my life has always bent toward expression through words and toward the sharing of them. I am nowhere near the end of it, and I have no idea where I will end up. I only know that I have always felt the most like myself when I am writing.

I only know that it all started with a cheap notebook I bought in a store that catered to sad, lonely, overly emotional teenage girls like me. I know that that girl had something to say, and she’s still saying it today.


Writen in response to the  The Daily Post’s Discover Challenge: Origin Story

Featured image via Unsplash


5 Replies to “From Notebooks to Novels”

  1. Writers write and the poets dream. Somewhere I fall between. (My thoughts on my own writing.) ~ Keep saying it. Great read. Stay beautiful!


  2. Sorry to hear you weren’t as happy as a youngster but all seems a lot brighter now. 14 is young to give up- 17 is also young to realise you had to change your perspective. I have sooo many notebooks everywhere, some are 4 pages in- some are only 10 full pages in the middle but I’ve always been obsessed. The issue was the starting and stopping. Resolving that now


    1. Thank you for the kind words. Some of us just had to grow up earlier than others, things are better now, though.

      I’ve started and stopped many notebooks but the last two I made real effort to write in from beginning to end and as close to everyday as I could. I skipped a day here and there, and sometimes weeks at a time too, but I keep coming back to it. That’s the trick. Good luck to you :)

      Liked by 1 person

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