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…