Monday, August 08, 2005

A Tiny Miracle or Two

I erased a page in my journal yesterday. How lame is that?

It started when I discovered a tiny miracle last week. I had needed a book to collect my small poems. On my computer, they just looked like so many patients in the ER waiting room. I needed something more poetry friendly. A small journal that was waiting on my bookshelf would serve my purpose perfectly.

I retrieved the fabric covered gem. It was right where I knew it would be. With pencil in hand, I sat down ready to put the little book to use and found the pages already filled. Written words stared up at me from ten years ago. I stared back, reading away the rest of the afternoon. It was all one might hope an old journal would be. I was converted. I had to get back to writing with a pencil. The little journal had proved that it worked for me. Imagine what I might discover finding its way to paper.

The first journal entry was easy. The new journal, a distressed-leather, hardbound volume had arrived the day before my son's birthday. Thoughts of his birth were the important stuff of which great journal entries were made. I felt no fear, no anxiety. I wrote slowly. I wrote deeply. My handwriting reflected the softness of my feelings.

Entry two, however, was a problem. It was the journal equivalent of the sophomore slump. I had won the Oscar my first time out. How did I live up to such an opening act? I was in a quandary. The ruler and the writer in my head got verbal about their thoughts:

You can't write about that.
Why not?
It's not good enough.
Well, what about this?
Not that either.
It's my journal.
Yes, it is, and you have standards.
Why should I care if it's not an Oscar winner? This is an exercise in writing.
You'll read it later, and you'll be sorry you wrote it.
This is ridiculous--you want me to edit journal entries before I even write them. . . . It's a journal. I'm not going to edit my journal. Be quiet.

Whew! The writer won. At least I thought the writer won. I wrote about heroes.

Today I read what I wrote. It was awful. It read like I was in a paper bag arguing with myself. No. It sounded like I was yelling at the world because I couldn't figure out what to write in my journal. My handwriting was all over the place, showing the conflict in spades. It looked angrier than the words read. I winced just looking at it.

I thought long and hard. Then I decided to erase the entire entry. The ruler and the writer went crazy again:

You can't do that.
Sure can. I'm doing it. I've already started.
Why? Who's going to read it?
I am.
So then why not leave it?
Can't leave it now. It’s half gone.
You could leave the top half.
No, I can't. I don’t want to.
You'll always know you did it. You cheated at journal writing. You're a fake.
Yep. I will, and I am. Hey, this feels pretty good. This is like the world's "do-over."

This time I know the writer won. I don't know why I never did that before. Chalk up erasing that page as tiny miracle number two.

They say good things come in threes. . . .
—me strauss Letting me be

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