Inspiration – My High School Diary

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During my teenage years, I kept a journal. It was brutally honest, filled with my deepest secrets. Angst-filled entries about my low status on the high school totem pole. Rants about how much I hated gym (especially volleyball!). Friendship troubles. Obsessive ramblings about the boys I had crushes on.

After a recent conversation with my teenage daughter, I felt the urge to go back and re-read some of the entries. I was filled with inspiration when I read the entry below, written by my 15-year-old self.  At the time, I had finished writing my first “real” novel (I, Mary – a Biblical retelling/romance) and started my second (Daughter of the Shooting Star – a science-fiction romance). Note that this is a direct quote from my diary, including the annoying ALL CAPS part:

journal


My diary: 1978 – 1980

“…  And now I know that I can really be a writer and that “I, Mary” wasn’t just a fluke. If I could get both books published before I graduate, it would be EXCELLENT! But I’ll just settle for “I, Mary” being published before I graduate high school. I pray that it gets published because it really is very good. I also pray that I get typing first semester so that I can type it up and send it off to a publisher. But I don’t worry too much about that. My main note is that I MUSTN’T GET DISCOURAGED!! If I do, I’m not a real, true writer! And I won’t be, either, until I get a book published.”

The year this journal entry was written . . . 1980.

That’s how long I’ve wanted to be a writer. That’s how long I’ve thought about it and dreamed about it, and wanted to make it happen.

To be honest, there were long stretches of my life where I didn’t write, because I was too busy with other things: college, grad school, traveling, working on archaeological digs, museum work, and being a mom. But the dream never left. Somewhere inside me, that 15-year-old kid kept reminding me that I really wanted to be a writer.

That’s one of the reasons I started writing again in 2008, and why I keep writing now.  But unlike my teenage self, I do think I’m a real writer, even if I’m not published (yet).

Do you ever read over old journal entries from the past? Are you inspired by anything you’ve read?

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10 Responses to Inspiration – My High School Diary

  1. Haha, this is so awesome. I especially love this line:

    I also pray that I get typing first semester so that I can type it up and send it off to a publisher.

    I am so jealous of people who have journals because I’ve never been able to keep up with one myself. They are such a great snapshot of the things you’ll forget about yourself. And it’s nice to hear I’m not the only one who’s kept at writing long past high school! 🙂

  2. casacullen says:

    I just realize how funny that line is about “typing class”! It makes me seem even more like an artifact!

  3. I loved that! It also reminded me of a recent convo with my 16yo daughter. She said “I’m going to take Creative Writing next year. Because I’m good at writing.” SO CONFIDENT. I feel like I beat myself up daily, hourly, every minute about not being good enough and here she is, a not so great high school age writer, all blase about her talent. LOL. Also, you need to take “aspiring” out of your bio. YOU ARE A WRITER. Believe it. Being pub’d has nothing to do with it. 🙂

  4. Mia Celeste says:

    Super goal. You’re getting closer and closer and maybe after Piper Girl, readers will be clamoring for I, Mary. Having read Piper Girl I know I’m a fan. You write beautifully.

  5. casacullen says:

    Thanks for the encouragement! I think “I, Mary” is one of those ‘first books’ that needs to stay in the trunk. Now “Daughter of the Shooting Star,” on the other hand, might have some potential…

  6. I like the title of your first novel, “I, Mary” and your 15-year old self’s enthusiasm is contagious- I love that journal entry : )

    I’ve definitely been inspired by at least one old journal entry- it was one I’d written on my very last day of high school. I like to, periodically, go back and read it again. It wouldn’t seem significant to most people, but it’s the beginning of a story to me.

    Loved your post this week and it’s awesome that through the other adventures you’ve tackled, you’ve continued to stay true to a dream that’s very close to your heart : )

  7. Shanah says:

    It sounds like you’ve lived part of my dream with the archaeological digs and working at museums. 😉

    I don’t know if my teenage self would inspire me much now, even if I am thinking a lot about that era as my own daughter enters her teens. I just know I always wanted to write and do those archaeological digs, and travel and write some more, and be completely adventurous. I didn’t really do them…not all of them. I do get to travel a surprising amount though, more than I thought I would, and I am working on the dig thing.

    Thanks for the words of encouragement that dreams never need to fade. They are in our hearts and our journals record our deepest dreams from our youth. Those are the dreams I feel are our real ones. 🙂

    • Pat Esden says:

      Love the journal entry. I go back and read mine every now and again. I burned a bunch post-high school diaries. They were too angst–and revealed way more than I wanted anyone to discover if I died unexpectedly.

  8. That’s amazing! I’d thought about writing books back in high school, but I’d never completed anything, or set a goal like you did back then. You should blow up that page of your diary and post it on your wall for inspiration!

    Also: I’m a fellow archaeology(student) turned writer. Glad to see that there IS some inspiration from all the travels (and sand) it involves.

    Thanks for sharing this 🙂

  9. I love this post! 🙂 I never really kept a journal or diary when I was younger – I’d start them and then wander away and never really pick them up again. I think it’s great that you not only wrote in yours, but kept them. And I agree – you’re writing, therefore you are a writer! 🙂

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