Tearing off the wrapping paper revealed a black velvet-covered book with a beautiful silver metal square in the center, embossed with a rearing unicorn. Okay. So, yeah. I hated to be wrong and really, really, wanted the latest in my series, but I grew excited about what this book could be about. Until I opened it.
The pages were ruled but blank. I remember flipping through it frontwards and backwards, practically shaking it for the adventure story I was sure hid inside. When my mother shared that it was a journal, she might as well have said “poisonous snake”, that’s how fast I dropped it. While I LOVED reading, I hated/dreaded/avoided writing. What was I supposed to do with a journal? I was sure it was another useless suggestion from Dr. Nusbaum who was supposed to be helping me stop feeling so mad about my parents’ divorce and life in general. He was always going on and on about expressing my feelings… like that would help anything.
I hurled the journal in the trash, stalked to my new room and threw myself on the bed. I seriously hated Christmas now. I wondered what my father was doing. What my older sister was doing. Did they miss me? My eyes drifted shut and when I woke a couple of hours later, I discovered my presents piled on the bed beside me, the beautiful journal glimmering on top. Feeling bad about throwing it out (hey—it wasn’t the journal’s fault for being so terrible), I reached for it, opened it, and felt its smooth pages.
Before I knew it, I’d grabbed a pen and wrote “Merry Christmas from Hell” or something equally cheery like that. The funny thing was that simply writing those words filled me with something I’d been missing since my parents’ marriage (and my life) fell apart—control and a sense of freedom. I could write whatever I wanted in this journal. No judging. No timer. No reporting back to my parents. This journal was mine alone and over the next year it became my own secret world where I recorded my feelings, my hopes, my dreams, poems and short stories. This unexpected present, and the many journals that followed it, made me the author I am today. There is no such thing as the dreaded “blank page” for me. Nope. Instead, I always think back to this time in my life and imagine empty sheets as new frontiers for my imagination, kingdoms for my creativity and I happily, humbly, and gratefully set to work bringing them to life.