There’s a popular commercial that begins with depictions of various people from different walks of life engaged in tedious office duties, yard work, and household chores. Nothing to capture the viewer’s eye, except that these laborers are all wearing motorcycle gear and helmets as they perform these ordinary tasks. In each scene, a forlorn soul trapped in a droll existence begs to the camera like an abandoned puppy, “I wanna ride!” Then, cue the catchy, rockin’ jingle: “I wanna ride, I wanna ride, I wanna ride, I wanna ride!” Fast and furious freedom bursts onto the screen in pulsation to the beat. Board members and housewives hit the open road on their blazing motorcycles, rebelling against empty servitude and confinement.
I can relate.
When I was a preschool-aged child, I loved the sound of certain words. When I discovered one I liked, I’d repeat it over and over again, savoring the inflections and letting the sound run across my tongue like a connoisseur at a fine wine tasting. I couldn’t read yet, and I wrote my J’s backwards, but I was already fascinated with the palpable power of the English language.
Even when I did learn to write, I didn’t. I took piano lessons, rode my bike, and joined the Girl Scouts. I wrote when my teachers said I had to. I thought everybody could write just as easily as they could read. Never mind that my sixth grade teacher confiscated my creative writing assignments and informed my parents that she was keeping them for herself. Apparently, she saw something special in me, but she never told me. Nobody told me. I wish they would have.
As a teenager, besides accessing my writing skills at school, I occasionally wrote about my awakenings in love and spirituality. I didn’t think of myself as talented. I was just a girl who was willing to mull over the contents of her heart. Maybe that in itself was a gift, but I didn’t realize that either. Later, college didn’t even make me smart enough to connect with the waiting writer inside of me.
Because this is only a blog and not a book, suffice it to say that from there, my adult life did not revolve around prolific bouts of writing. I graduated from letters to e-mails along with the rest of the world’s populous. But, no, I did not write extensively or for an audience.
I fell backwards into publishing when I was asked to write a book review for a magazine. It paid only twenty-five dollars, which didn’t explain why it elated me in a way that writing a book review shouldn’t. It felt a little too good, so I pushed it aside. Real writing was for glamorous dreamers with feather boas and people who didn’t have a basketball team of kids to raise.
When my life did a one-eighty that dropped me into the middle of the raging sea (read Falling in October for the story), my ofttimes buried love of writing floated to the surface and became my life raft. I rested my weary feelings on that safe pillow, clinging to it in the storm like a strong, old friend. That life raft took me to shore, where God used writing to give me the land legs to stand on my own two feet again. Who needs therapy when writing so perfectly displays both your prayers and the clarity of their answers on the same page?
They say there’s no such thing as an overnight success. A talented actor or rock star will seemingly materialize out of thin air; but the truth is, toil and trouble preceded that grand entrance. I’ve got that “toil and trouble” part down pretty well. So far, no red carpet has been unrolled in my direction, but notoriety is neither the point nor the goal. The point is that I’ve come by this slowly and honestly, starting when I pondered my first fifty-cent word at age three. The goal was never a goal at all, and still isn’t. It’s just the final acknowledgment of a meaningful gift. I’ve kept it on the shelf for the majority of my life, so maybe it’s time I relieved Mr. Shelf of that tiresome duty. I’d like to adorn him instead with a few treasure-filled volumes, written in collaboration with the talent he lovingly held in reserve for me. I bet he’d like that better than a bow tie.
For years, I didn’t dare step outside of reality to tap into my creative imagination–not the way I was meant to. Even more astounding is that I actually lived an eventful life that was anything but run-of-the-mill. Why didn’t I write about my significant experiences the way I could have? I don’t know. Was I just too busy to think about it? I just know I can’t say the dog ate my homework. But now, after monumental upheaval and reinvention, I can finally identify that perpetual, whimpering sound. It was that sensitive, abandoned, brown-eyed puppy in me…all along, begging, “I wanna write!“
Here it is–the open road. Time to hit it with an exhilarating, fast and furious freedom. In pulsation to the beat, rebelling against empty servitude and confinement, I’ve embraced a grand purpose and my ultimate adventure. Cue the catchy, rockin’ jingle: “I wanna write, I wanna write, I wanna write, I wanna write!”