women. writers.

From the Editor: How Writing Can Save Your Life (If You Let It)

Did you know that the written word has healing powers?

I didn't either...until my parents got divorced.

I'd always loved reading. Stories had a way of coming to life inside my head and making me absolutely burst with energy, so much so I'd have to go outside in the yard and act them out so I could get some peace. Felicity, the original American Girl, was my favorite. She had so much spunk and so much character; I wanted to be that kind of girl. I wanted to be someone who mattered. Someone who stood up for things and turned her tea cup over in polite defiance of a monarchy she didn't believe in. Or something like that.

A few years after I read Felicity, I found a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank on the shelf in my elementary school's library. Anne's face was on the cover and I was drawn to it immediately. I checked out the Definitive Edition and took it home, quickly discovering I had no idea how to read it because trying to marry all the collected versions of her book was like trying to find my way out of a maze. But my parents bought me a regular copy for Christmas that year, a shiny red book that would fit in my back pocket (I wore very baggy jeans as a boyish, gangly 6th grader) which I promptly devoured and became slightly obsessed with over the course of the next two years. Anne's words lifted me up when I felt like the heavy cloud of surly moods and words we couldn't take back would nearly topple my family over. Because of Anne, I started my own diary. And through the course of my awkward middle and actually quite lovely (though not without rebellion) high school years, it saved me.

In college, my diary was kind of a public secret. My friends would see me writing in it and everyone knew I had one, but thankfully it was left alone (if any of you ever read it, you hid it well...I invite you to keep hiding it). The pages of a dozen binders and notebooks were solace to me like not even the most intimate conversations with friends, although those were certainly a blessed many. Somehow, pulling words from inside my mind and making them tangible on paper allowed me to step back from how I felt and discern things I couldn't before. I heard God when I read my diary. He was present in my heart and He showed me things that were happening, things I couldn't make sense of until I was able to untangle them from the mess inside my head and write them down.

Writing brings clarity, that's one thing I know for sure.

If you're anything like me, perhaps you struggle with the ever-present noise of unwritten thoughts bouncing off the walls in your brain. And nothing will bring calm until you've sat down with a fresh cup of coffee and a pen or keyboard to give those words a permanent home outside your body. Then they're there, existing on paper, and sometimes that is a frightening thing. But it's freedom, isn't it?

When we tell stories, made up stories or stories that come from real life, we give other people permission to tell them, as well. Our honesty lets the world into scary, vulnerable places, but with that honesty comes a wide open door to be who we are and not shy away from the deepest parts of ourselves. And that, my friends, gives life.

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