Why I Write Pieces I’ll Never Publish

Sun setting over a Tennessee lake

The writing I do falls into three broad categories:  (1) blog posts; (2) pieces that might someday be published (personal essays, poems, fiction); and (3) things I write only for myself (and I suppose the writing I do for work is a fourth category, but that’s a whole different animal).  Today, I’d like to talk about the third category.  What’s the point of writing things that no one else will ever read?

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A Letter to My Teenage Self on High School Graduation

Snapshot of a group of girls smiling for the camera in their graduation gowns
Carlisle High School graduation, 2002. Thanks for the photo, Vi!

Congratulations on making it through high school!  I know there was never any real doubt that you would graduate, but you should celebrate anyway.  No, you aren’t as emotional as many of the other girls, who are crying about leaving their best friends, singing Vitamin C’s graduation song, and talking about how life will never be the same again.  You’re ready to move on to bigger and better things.  But someday, even though you’d never want to relive it, you’ll be a little nostalgic about your high school experience.  So you should go to the graduation parties, have fun at senior beach week, and try to appreciate this moment — because it’s true, your life never will be the same again.

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Life Lessons from an Easter Egg Hunt

The author as a child posing with an inflatable Easter Bunny

One of my earliest childhood memories is of an Easter egg hunt that my dad’s company hosted when I was about three.  On a sunny Saturday morning, the employees’ young children gathered in front of a building facing a big lawn where plastic eggs had been scattered.  Someone said go, and a mob of older children sprinted onto the grass, grabbing eggs and shoving them into plastic bags.  I was younger than most of the kids and wasn’t entirely sure what was happening.  The eggs hadn’t been hidden well; it wasn’t a hunt so much as a race.  My little legs couldn’t run very fast, and it seemed like every time my searching eyes spotted a brightly colored piece of plastic, someone else got to it before I did.  Within a few minutes, all of the eggs had been captured.  I had one lonely egg in my clear plastic bag.

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1991

Me with my mom and dad, sitting in front of our Christmas tree when I was about eight

I remember when my mom drove home from work in tears from the pain, vomiting in the car. I don’t remember exactly what happened next. She may have gone to the emergency room — maybe our neighbor watched me that evening — or she may have toughed it out and went to the doctor the next day. My mom was tough like that.

I wasn’t privy to all the conversations. I knew she was sick. I didn’t have a name for it at first. I don’t remember the treatments, only the hospital. My best friend and I went to visit her after her surgery. We had drawn pictures for her. I think mine had a rainbow, and some hearts. She must have been gone from our house for a few days — I remember missing her.

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Check In With Your Childhood Self

Charcoal drawing of a seated and smiling mother and child
Mother and Child, 2004.

If you’re like me, you’ve wondered from time to time whether you’re on the right path.  You may be contemplating a career move or relocation, or maybe you’ve already hopped around a bit but still don’t feel like you’ve found a perfect fit.  Some people have a passion or a dream that keeps them striving in one direction their whole lives, but for the rest of us, our life trajectory isn’t necessarily so clear.  Sometimes you’re restless or discontented in your current situation, but you don’t know what to change to get yourself unstuck.  When I’ve felt that way, I’ve found it helpful to think about my childhood self.

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