For many years, writing has been a very important
aspect of my life, long before I decided to make a profession of it. Late at
night, when everyone was sleeping, I could be found at the table writing. During
that time, I kept a journal and wrote fluently filling notebook after notebook
day after day, week after week. Most of the things written in each journal
consisted of daily activities with my children, things that were going on at
school and the animals we kept, as well as the hardships we faced as a poor
family in East Texas.
It was so hard living with an alcoholic husband.
Page after page in my journal was filled with my daily thoughts of: What were we
going to do now? How were we going to make it? What if he quits his job again?
Many painful memories were captured on the pages of my inexpensive spiral
I wrote about the funny things the kids did
growing up, about their first day of school, about the camping trips we’d take
and end up camping alone while their daddy went off with his buddies; about the
many cuts, scrapes and bruises the kids picked up along the way and later on,
about leaving our tiny little home to escape further abuse from their alcoholic
I wrote about the experience of sleeping in the
car at the river a time or two because we had no money to rent a room, about
sneaking through the back door of the church long after everyone went home and
we’d bathe in the bathroom sinks and sleep on the pews until we were caught by
the pastor one day. He and his wife helped us find an apartment and helped us
rent it. All this and more went into page after page of my journal.
There were many painful memories captured in the
many pages of my journal. The passage about my mother’s death still brings tears
to my eyes as I read it ever so often. The pain and suffering she went through
was unbearable, as was the sadness she left behind.
Even now, my journals are filled with pain –
there for awhile, we coasted along after my divorce – with little pain from
death of loved ones until a few years back when nephews, uncles and friends
started getting killed. David, my next to the oldest son, got killed during this
time several years ago. Again, my journal became the resting place for the
suffering I was going through after tragically losing David. I was facing
despair and managed to write in spite of my pain. Then, I lost another son named
James – he was killed accidentally in a logging accident. A couple of years
later, my 17-year old daughter Melanie was killed in a car accident. Life hasn’t
always been a bed of roses.
Each of my journals has a past all its own. Each
page is filled with memories good and bad. I have taken them out a few times and
read through one or two. With eyes full of tears, too painful to read any
further, I put them away in their plastic storage unit in the closet to keep
from furthering my hurt.
I can relate to the writing and recall each
memory vividly. It’s as if going back to a certain place and time and reliving
it momentarily. Some of the memories I recorded were good ones, and still make
me smile. Keeping a journal is a wonderful idea and you can pass it on to your
children and grandchildren. I wish to leave my journals to my living children
My journals are kept safe and someday, I hope
they will become a tribute in some small way to history. If they do that, then
I’ve accomplished something worthwhile after all.
My stories were meant for deaf ears, but who
knows that someday I might want to write my life story – my journals can be a
springboard for memories and wonderful family stories long forgotten until
refreshed by the pages of my journals.
Keeping a journal is really simple – an
inexpensive spiral notebook works well, and is handled easily. The more
comfortable you are with the book you use, the easier it is to write.
Start each page with the day's date, day and
time, skip a line and start brainstorming awhile. Write whatever comes to mind
until inspiration takes hold and you’re writing freely those memories and events
that unfold day by day in your life. Write about the things that make you happy,
or sad, your likes and dislikes – write about your spouse or sweetheart who may
be aggravating you or whom you love so much. Remember – your journal is as
private as you want it to be. You can keep it hid or let every body in your
family read yours – that’s up to you. Write whatever you like, as much or as
little as you like. The more, the merrier. Include details that will someday
spark your memory and you will look back and say, “I remember that.”
I have included a journal entry from June 27,
2001. Tragedy struck again, claiming the life of my oldest son James. He was at
work when he was killed. Later, after everyone met back at the house, and I had
a moment of privacy that evening, I recorded this passage in my journal:
"Wednesday, June 27,2001, 11:00 p.m.
This morning, I started to leave for work like I
do every morning, but stopped off at Jack’s to use the phone. While I was there,
I decided to go car shopping and needed the day off so I called in to work and
told them I wasn’t coming. A few seconds after I got off the phone with my boss,
the phone rang. Candy and James’ number showed up on the ID. I knew they
wouldn’t be calling at this time of day – besides that, James was at work and
they each knew I would not be at Jack’s either. Not knowing why they were
calling here at this time of morning, I quickly picked up the phone, only to
hear Candy sobbing in the background. I asked, 'What is it, Candy?' And she
began to tell me that James had been in an accident at work – a tree had fallen
Dropping the phone, I started screaming, knowing
what was coming next although I never heard her say he was dead. Jack took the
receiver and I ran out the door screaming, fixing to jump in my car and race off
home. But Jack caught me and took the keys out of the ignition..."
Though this was a painful memory, it happened. I
can further look back and see how everyone reacted to this tragic news because I
recorded it in my journal. I was looking back through one entry dated Easter of
last year and recollected James and Candy and their two daughters being here and
the joy James got out of hiding eggs in my yard for those two little girls. I
could see him in my mind hiding eggs and helping his two little girls find them
before anyone else did. This particular entry makes me smile and glad that I had
recorded it. It sparked a wonderful memory that I may have eventually forgotten.
All was not lost. I still have my memories and
journals to remind me of the good times, and the bad. We had some wonderful
times together and for that I am thankful.
Journal writing is healthy and good – you can get
things off your chest and come to terms with what life is all about. Journals
can become a family heirloom and a showcase for the entire family to enjoy long
after you’re gone. They can be helpful in writing family histories or just a
springboard for good ideas. Don’t let good years be wasted when there are people
out there who want to know about you, the past and how you lived. Write down
your thoughts, dreams, and goals – let it become a treasure for those left
behind. Write every day, as much as you can. Record your thoughts and memories –
someday - someone will enjoy reading them again and again...
Marcella Simmons has been writing professionally since 1988 –
she has over 650 published credits in over 350 small press
publications nationwide. In 2005, Simmons had her first book of
poetry published, and is working on several book projects at
this time. She continues to write a regular weekly column for a
local newspaper in her hometown, as well as many other writing
projects. "Writing is a way of life for me," she says.
Simmons is the mother of eight children (all are grown now) and
she has seven grandchildren with another on the way. "My
family is also a way of life for me, and my inspiration."
Anglo-Brazilian agent seeks UK/US authors Literary agent James McSill is
looking for new US/UK authors to trial the Brazilian market. He is interested in hearing from fiction writers who have sold more than 1,000 books in their home territory.