Just my type by Mari Koegelenberg. The typewriter font by Heather Hess.
When I was younger, I had dreams of being a writer. I was sure that I would live in the English countryside (don’t know how I was going to get there from Utah?) where I would plunk away on my typewriter for hours every day. It was a ridiculously romanticized image of what the life of a writer would be and I’ve come to understand that is not likely to ever be what my life looks like. The best part is that I’ve since realized I don’t want that type of existence. Sure, the English countryside part still sounds wonderful, but I definitely want more out of my world than just a one on one relationship with words and paper. I want to live life each day and experience it. That means that I have to squeeze in bits and pieces of writing when I can.
Sometimes, when I discuss my love of scrapbook journaling with others, they seem to have an idealized notion of what it must be like to be one of “those people” who write a lot on their layouts. They act as if I have more time or talent than they do because I’ve put a few paragraphs on a page. What they might not realize it that it comes out word by little word, and it often takes many tries to simply jot down a few sentences.
I’ll open a word document and type a few thoughts, then I need to drive my daughter somewhere. That document stays open in the background of my computer while I answer emails, teach my children in homeschool, and balance our checkbook. I play around with the layout. It’s much more fun to arrange flowers than it is to extract words from my busy brain.
I remind myself that the page will not be complete without the story, so I go back to my word document. I switch back and forth between photos and thoughts. I stare at the pictures and try to remember what I want to say. I type a few words. I look at the clock and realize that dinner time is right around the corner. I forget about the journaling. Hours later, the kids are finally in bed, and I have a few minutes. But, I’m exhausted and I have other things that need to get done before morning. Those tasks come first, but I type a few more lines to explain the memories.
This process can last for days at times. It all depends on what interrupts me. I have a real life. I’m needed by actual people. I don’t give up. I write when I can. I take any little chunk of time that falls into my lap and I use it. That’s what writers do.
My new image of a writer is not someone who sits alone for hours in a quiet room, but it is someone who makes notes on her smartphone, works on ideas when she has a few minutes, types captions into her photo uploads, shares thoughts on social media, and post pictures and thoughts in blog posts. She can type memories while her son plays rock band in the other room, or in a quick dash as she fits in some time before a friend drops by.
When the time comes to pull it all together, a writer gathers the breadcrumbs she’s been leaving behind and gives them a home. In my case, the finished product is not a novel, but a scrapbook page. Bits and pieces at a time. Line by line, I’m writing the story of my life and I call it scrapbooking. Not in a cottage overlooking an English garden, but in a house full of people, cooking dinner, teaching school, wearing sweatpants, at 11 p.m. at night, or on my phone at the breakfast table.
I’m a writer because I stick with it. I keep going until those words are on the piece of paper. It’s not glamorous. It’s not even particularly talented. It’s persistent, and it pays off in the long run. I’m a writer because I’m a scrapbooker. I’m a writer because I keep trying to be one. The key is to just chip away at it until you have something down on paper, and when you do – put it on a layout!