"I can't think without a pen in my hand!" - Me

"I can't think without a pen in my hand!" - Me

A Friendly Guide to Navigating this BLOG

If you have visited this blog before, you will notice I've made some changes. A Pen in My Hand is going to be dedicated to lighthearted anecdotes and whatever else I feel like writing. I have started another blog for topics that are more serious/spiritual in nature. See the link in the sidebar to visit that blog.

I sincerely hope you find something here worth reading; but if not, take heart. There are about six billion other blogs out there to choose from.

Friday, January 6, 2012

My Writing Story

OLAS I LOVE YOU Vary moch.
you do sed the prinses yes sed the prints.
the prints and the prinses got mared.
and the prints and the prinses livd happole.
until the prints went to ormy and left the printses all alown.
the printses wept as if her hort had broc.
but the next day the prints cam back.
and the printses sang with joy.
the end.

This was the first story I ever wrote. I was four years old and too young to write legibly by hand, so I composed this little story on my mother's typewriter. She saved it in a cardboard box labeled "Krista-Memories." Over the years that box filled up with a great deal more writing. There was my poetry phase when I was ten or eleven, my fiction phase throughout middle school, and finally my nonfiction phase which began at age fourteen and continues to the present. Regardless of the genres I dabbled in, two types of writing remained constant: letters and journals. Writing these has helped me cultivate relationships, formulate ideas, develop my personality, focus my perspective, and process my experiences. If I had not been inclined (or encouraged) to write throughout the years, I believe I would be an entirely different person today.

I grew up in New Hampshire, but my grandparents lived in New Jersey. We only saw them once or twice a year, so our primary contact was through letters. I distinctly remember when I started writing letters to my grandfather. It was just before my eleventh birthday. He had sent me a card with a check for ten dollars in it the previous year, and I had high hopes that he might do the same again. My only concern was that he might forget about my birthday altogether. (After all, he was at least sixty-five!) I decided to send him a letter a couple weeks early, working in a casual reference to my upcoming birthday. He wrote back, so I wrote back. Before long we were signing our letters "Pen Pal Krista" and "Pen Pal Pop" – which we eventually shortened to PPK and PPP. My grandfather was a Cornell graduate and an excellent writer. I believe my writing style first began to take shape during our ten years of regular correspondence. But more importantly, because of our letters we developed a close bond in spite of our rare face-to-face visits. (And the birthday checks kept coming!) When my grandfather passed away, he had very few possessions; but my father gave me his Cross pen-and-pencil set. I could not have been more pleased had I inherited a fortune!

In addition to letter writing, journaling has played a prominent role in my development as a writer. I kept journals during my teen years partly to help me cope with the drama of growing up, but also in order to preserve my memory of being a teenager and provide proof for my future children that I was indeed their age once. In fact, when I was fourteen years old I sat down and wrote a letter addressed, "To my firstborn daughter on her 13th birthday." What follows are half a dozen pages of loopy handwriting in purple ink, pouring out all the wisdom my fourteen years had to offer. I still have that letter, taped inside the cover of one of my many journals. I have enjoyed sharing excerpts of my journals with my five children, reading them accounts of my experiences that parallel their own – such as breaking up with a boyfriend or learning to drive.

In recent years, I have become more serious about my writing. I have found myself writing for a broader audience, dabbling with blogging, self-publishing, and publishing online. Having reached this point, I find myself in need of further education. I have two goals. First, I would like to write for publication. Second, I would like to teach writing at the upper high school or college level – including the class most of us know as "Freshman Comp." This may not seem like setting my sites very high. After all, who aspires to teach freshman composition? I know that many students see this class as the necessary evil of college education, but I see it as one final opportunity to inspire students to become life-long writers. I can't imagine anything more challenging or worthwhile.

In conclusion, I'd like to share the incredible irony of my life as a writer thus far. My first bit of prose was the story of the "prinses" whose "prints" went away with the "ormy." The following is an excerpt from my most recent writing project. It is taken from the first of a series of articles published weekly on the National Guard Facebook page, "Granite Thunder":

On Tuesday, September 14, at 5:00 a.m., I stood facing my husband in the parking lot of the National Guard armory. We had known for about nine months that this moment would come; but now that it was here, I didn’t feel ready. In the pre-dawn darkness, I looked at my husband, wearing his uniform, holding his computer carry-on bag and his army duffle. It was time for final words and last goodbyes. I wanted above all to reassure him that I would be alright. I tried to conjure up a bit of the Spartan spirit. I embraced him and said, “Come back with your laptop or on it!” With that, we parted.

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