A Blank Page and an Open Mind

Three years ago, I sat in a coffee shop with a brand new journal, some colored pens, a stack of magazines, a pair of scissors, and a glue stick. I’d just decided to end my teaching career and become a writer. Faced with the opportunity in front of me, I felt both excited and overwhelmed in equal measure. After all, I didn’t exactly know what being a writer looked like. So I did what I always do when I need to figure things out. I sat down with a blank page and an open mind.

This is what I produced:


This found poem is still one of my favorite things. I re-read it a couple of times a year, and it never fails to inspire me anew. The journal it’s in is no longer blank. I stayed in that coffee shop for hours, filling it with ideas, story beginnings, homeless lines of poetry, and the very first to do lists for my new life as a writer. With every word I wrote down, I felt more confident, more sure of my decision. By the time I came home, I still didn’t know exactly what it meant to be a writer, but I was ready to find out.

There’s some good stuff in that journal. Once in a while I open it up and find an idea that’s ripened into something juicy. Some of the vagrant lines of poetry have found homes; others still wait patiently. But my favorite thing about it is the way it serves as a concrete reminder of where I started and how much I’ve learned. Three years ago, my to do list included items like “Research steps to publishing a novel” (as if it were that simple) and “Find a third publication to submit poetry” (because back then I had only two credits to my name and no idea just how many opportunities there are for submitting work).

When I look at this journal, and the found poem that started it all, I can’t help but wonder what the next three years will teach me. I guess there’s only one way to find out.

She dusts off her to do list and…

Published by Carie Juettner

Carie Juettner is a former middle school teacher and the author of The Ghostly Tales of New England, The Ghostly Tales of Austin, The Ghostly Tales of Burlington, and The Ghostly Tales of Dallas in the Spooky America series by Arcadia Publishing. Her poems and short stories have appeared in publications such as The Twin Bill, Nature Futures, and Daily Science Fiction. Carie lives in Richardson, Texas, with her husband and pets. She was born on Halloween, and her favorite color is purple.

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