Saturday, January 25, 2014

Write on

Jeannine Atkins used this line in a blog post: "Recently I spoke with a friend about journals we had as girls, and how often first diaries are gifts from older women: that precious belief that we had something to say, before we knew that ourselves." Jeannine was talking about another topic altogether (charm strings), but that sentence made me stop and ponder.

It made me think of how powerful an act it is when people give other people the tools for writing and say: "Here. I think you have stories to tell."

On June 12, 1942, a girl named Anne Frank received a diary as a birthday gift. A few days later, she wrote, "It's an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary, not only because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that neither I--nor for that matter anyone else--will be interested in the unbosomings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl. Still, what does that matter? I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart."

She could not know then that her diary would become a world-famous document, part of the historical record of the persecution of millions of innocent people. Or that its appeal would also lie in the details of a young girl dealing with family conflict, ambitions, growing up, and a crush--ordinary experiences in extraordinary circumstances. Even if her diary had never been seen by anyone else, it would have served its original purpose: to provide an outlet for her to write and examine her own heart.

As Jeannine said, when we encourage others to write, we express "the precious belief that [they have] something to say."

So, write on.

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