Last month, we invited readers to share responses to a writing prompt inspired by Ruth Dawkins' essay, "Confessions of a Diary Writer" and Billie Hinton's essay, "The Great Height and the Long View." We asked readers to tell us how they recorded memories from your childhood or adulthood and how that influences the stories their children tell. Here is Alzala Singleton's response.
Why I Write
by Alzala Singleton
As a youth, I had all the love for writing a little girl could have, and none of the staying power. I’ve lost count of the number of diaries, journals, composition books, spiral bound notebook that I bought and started writing in, only to leave them half empty and forgotten in the bottom of my desk drawers. If I’m honest with myself, I only wrote in the journals to justify my insatiable need to own all the pretty ones.
My love-hate relationship with journaling flows from many sources. My obsession with penmanship dictates that my writing must be neat and clean, otherwise what’s the point. Journaling must be done on the regular, otherwise what’s the point. Don’t just write, add pictures and mementos, otherwise what’s the point. All the best things I want to remember get written down, that’s the point. Any writing is better than no writing, that’s the point. I love stationary and pretty journals, that’s the point.
All silliness aside, I do love to write. It brings a peace to my soul that’s impossible to find in any other activity, and leaves me feeling satisfied after a lengthy journal entry full of emotion and heart and memories. A couple years back, while perusing Barnes and Noble, I stumbled across this gorgeous leather-bound journal with gilt-edged paper and intricate Celtic knot work adorning the cover. I had to have it. It sat untouched in my dresser drawer, for months. Then my daughter was born.
It’s been almost a year since I first starting writing in that journal, and I’m not even half way through it. Some entries are a couple days apart, most are a month apart, some a couple weeks. At first it was all writing, lines and lines of letters with occasional stickers to mark momentous occasions; it’s since progressed to pictures lovingly taped and labeled, silly squiggles, and papers worth remembering. Of all the journals I’ve ever done, including scrapbooks, I’m most proud of this one. And it’s not even mine.
From the cover page, to the last entry, everything that I’m putting in this journal is meant for my daughter to read – good, bad, and ugly. It’s my gift to her, and in a way, my gift to myself. I’ve found a new appreciation for my own parents, in raising my daughter. It’s reminded me they were human once, even though it didn’t feel like it growing up. My hope is that this journal reminds her, as she reads it, that I’m human, we all stumble, and time moves on. She is the best thing to ever happen to me, and I hope, when she finishes reading that last entry and closes the cover, she is secure in that knowledge. That is why I write.
Alzala Singleton lives in Los Angeles and spends her days channeling her creative ideas into writing business articles covering merchant processing, while dreaming about all the books she'll one day publish. Alzala shares her home with a husband who lovingly tolerates all her wacky ideas, a 1-year old daughter who delights them both on a daily basis, three cats and a hermit crab.