Black, White, And Read All Over

Hands-Writing-Notebook-Journal-Concrete Photo : Alanna Bagladi

Writing has always been extremely important for me. I remember using writing as a way to work through my feelings when I was in fourth grade. I went to the doctor with a fifth case of strep throat, and needless to say, the doctor concluded that my tonsils must be removed. I was absolutely terrified. So, I turned to writing. I wrote out all my fears and anxieties. I drew diagrams and pictures explaining why I was scared. I wrote about all the good outcomes and all the bad outcomes. Writing really allowed me to process and move through that fear. It was an outlet even before I had the words to describe that writing as an outlet.

While in high school writing became a regular activity. I kept a journal as a way to work through my feelings. I hated high school. I was pretty active in extracurricular activities (ie – show choir, choir, theater, and NHS), but my struggle was with friends. I had friends while in the building but not many friendships that lasted beyond the four walls of my school. However, writing allowed me to vent and bitch about this constant struggle. It didn’t make life better or fix anything, but it certainly was a beneficial outlet that kept me from bursting while in school. I also liked to write stories about fictional characters doing really cool and exciting things. They never amounted to much but they were yet another way for me to create fun adventure stories. It was a way to get out of my head and into another world.

When I entered college, I still wrote as a way to process my feelings, but most of my writing time was taken up by academia. I majored in two writing heavy disciplines, history and sociology. Writing became the way that I expressed my thoughts and ideas. It was a way for me to systematically process, think, and explain what a book meant to me. How other’s words allowed me to feel something that was not right in front of me. Words on paper are extremely powerful. It is important to not only be able to express one’s thoughts verbally but also with words, black and white words on a page.

This is what writing means to me. I wanted to share this so that anyone who wants to start writing but doesn’t know, knows that all you have to do is put pen to paper, or more likely, type words on a keyboard. Writing doesn’t have to have a purpose. When you start writing, you do NOT have to know where you are going. It is a way to think and process. It is a way to layout your thoughts and feelings without having to say them out loud. It is great to have a direction and a purpose when writing, but it isn’t necessary. It is like a piece of art, sometimes you know where you are going, and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you start out one way and you end up in a completely different place. What you write about and why you write doesn’t matter, as long as it is useful for the writer.

As women, I believe, it is even more important for us to share our stories. Women’s stories have been suppressed throughout all of human history. Our voices have been deemed less important, less insightful, and less valuable. It is time that women have their voices front and center. We cannot and will not let our voices be suppressed any longer.

I urge you to take the leap and have your voice heard. You don’t have to be good at writing to have your voice heard, you can use art, music, poetry, anything that allows you to present your own perspective. There is always someone out there who will relate to what you express and will appreciate you expressing those thoughts or feelings before they could themselves.  So, please, take out a sheet of paper or open up your laptop and simply start writing, you would be surprised where end up.

Lindsay O’Keefe : Born and raised Iowan who recently moved to DC to, hopefully, pursue a career in social justice. Still finding my way but I know I will find it eventually. I have seen every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed at least 12 times each and I am a huge musical junkie who loves to read sci-fi and fantasy novels.