A Call to Journal

Navigating the complicated link between letter names and sounds stretched miles beyond my elementary school years. Seventh and eighth grade brought continued bafflement with the apparent ease in which others effortlessly deciphered the code. What were the hidden rules they were all privy to? Again and again I pondered the unfairness of being plagued with a burning desire to express myself in writing while lacking a mysterious ingredient to make this possible.

As early as first grade, I saw the line drawn between those who could and those who could not figure out the hidden code of letters. Years later, my fifth-grade teacher displayed exaggerated joy when I participated in a play with lots of words. With help from a third grader reading the play aloud for me, I was able to memorize my lines and pretend to be the master of those words. My performance was a façade. Nonetheless, it impressed upon me the power and status of fluently reading words. An awareness that came with a price. My desire to read intensified as did my anguish with the many word by word failures.

I was eight when my parents allowed me to select a kitten from our babysitter’s cat. I had already brought home several stray dogs and was obsessed with horses. My relationship with Samantha ignited my initial desire to write. I longed to tell the story of our adventures together in a way that would last. Tossing verbal details into the crowded airways seemed akin to dipping the plastic circle into the container of soapy water and blowing bubbles, waiting expectantly as they rose, and watching them perish much too soon. I knew treasured books were read over and over.This I knew as a non-reader. Written words were solid; they did not disappear. I wrote my first journal entry as a story about Samantha. My memory of writing down my experiences was one of thrilling satisfaction.

I shared the story with a friend a year or two later. She called it “cute.” Much later, I revisited my story and found myself shocked that not a single word was decipherable. I could barely translate what I had written. Disgusted and embarrassed, I tore it up. And yet, the desire to express myself in words continued to outsize the frustration in doing so inadequately.

I wrote in journals even before my spelling and conventions made reading the journals possible. Journals have provided a way to honor my writing desire without passing credentials. I kept my journals even while I embarrassingly failed English 101 in my path to becoming a special education teacher to help others like myself. My journals gave me hope and solace.

Now that I have written a novel (bordering on memoir but not), I have learned that the brunt of publicity falls heavily upon my introverted shoulders. Furthermore, I’ve learned that blogging can be helpful.

WELCOME to my Beyond Dyslexia blog. I’m relieved to know that what I write can be read. Not so sure others will want to read. But I trust that blogging will work for me if I view the activity as an extension of what I do as a writer. Journal writing is my authentic writing, and I plan to translate this into blog writing. Committing to a blog was not a decision taken lightly. Sharing precious novel-writing time (as I am indeed on to the next one) with blog writing created a formidable obstacle for me. (Have you noticed “blog” rhymes with “fog,” “hog,” and “slog”? The word itself saps my inspiration.)

I journaled for years and then in my fifties wrote a fictionalized version of my path to the writing life. My forthcoming novel, Once Upon a Time a Sparrow, is about transformation. I hope to inspire others. Writing my first novel (and the desire to share it) has brought me full circle to journaling, which I now translate into blogging. I hope you join me and stay tuned as I continue to be true to my journaling self.

Please consider signing up to receive my blog updates.
I anticipate new material once a month to six weeks. I will also provide an occasional update regarding my novel and events related to my novel.

3 thoughts on “A Call to Journal

  1. Kate Stannard

    Hi Mary: Congratulations on publishing your novel soon! May all the good forces be with you as you take the next step in your writing journey.
    Your blog and photos inspired me too – wishing you every blessing.
    – Kate Stannard

  2. Janet Brinkman

    Mary this is so beautifully put together!
    It’s creative, interesting and enticing! I don’t have any doubts that many, many readers will want to follow your blogs and read your books. I know I do! Fabulous work! I’m so excited for your book release.

  3. Kay Beisse

    Mary, congratulations on your website! LOVED the videos and reflections. Looking forward to receiving your blog updates.


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