The First Scribble

Have you ever received a journal so beautiful you kept it blank for years, because you couldn’t bare to ruin it with messy thoughts? Have you ever stared at a blinking cursor on a blank white screen willing yourself to start but feeling uninspired, or too jumbled or distracted to start? The trick is to just begin. Honor the attempt, let go of the fear of being wrong, and just write.

Turn that voice in your head into words on a page and let the thoughts come out. Depending on my mood the thoughts can come out slowly, fully crafted in my head with little need to edit. (These moments are rare.) Other times I hardly understand my own thoughts and I write out what I think I’m thinking. Then I backtrack and rewrite, rephrase, revise, undo, and try again until the jumbled thoughts in my head organize themselves before my eyes like pieces of a puzzle.

I love editing because I love that moment of discovering which words ring true and speak to the heart. The writer-reader relationship is important to me. Writers want to be understood and readers want to understand. If done well, the editing process can bridge unintentionally created divides.

Recently at my day job I was startled to see one of our girls abruptly get up from her table of friends to sit in a corner, bursting into tears. I eventually found out that she was feeling sensitive about words exchanged between friends. Preteen girl angst. I asked if she wanted to check in with the girls and she wailed that she didn’t know what to say. I asked if she’d prefer to write it down. “Think of it as a rough draft of your thoughts,” I added, worrying that unkind words would be made permanent for all to see.

For someone who didn’t know what to say out loud, she was quite ready to write it out. She quickly filled a single sheet of lined paper with honest questions of “Do you care?” “Are we still friends?” After some coaxing she allowed me to read her letter. There was nothing mean or unkind. Dramatic? Possibly, but we’ve all been there. I was struck with how easily she was able to get her difficult emotions across when I suggested she write instead of speak. Words she couldn’t begin to try to say out loud lay there on the page, brave advocates for someone feeling not so brave in the moment.

I can only think of one other time when I so quickly suggested writing out feelings to a youth, and that was over ten years ago. In 2018 I intend to continue melding my worlds of community work and editorial work into a unified sense of purpose. This is my first brave scribble on a brand new page. I’ve put this site together to share my work with others and to invite others to share their work with me.

Here we go!

-Ashley

 

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