“After changes upon changes,

we are more or less the same.

After changes we are more or less the same.”

~Paul Simon, The Boxer

A familiar feeling swept over me the other day as I was writing a blog post. Like a warm breeze of comfort, it swooped down out-of-the-blue and made me smile to myself. At first I couldn’t place the sensation, but then it hit me: Nine years old. Writing. Attic steps.

We didn’t actually have an attic.  It was a large closet with three deep linoleum steps that led to a door in the ceiling that, when pushed up, led to a storage space we called “the attic.” It had a partial floor that my father had laid between some of the beams by the entrance, and you couldn’t stand completely upright in it or walk around.

But I was a romantic kid who dreamed of writing in an attic, and if steps to an attic were the next best thing, then that’s what I would use. I would pull the chain on the closet light bulb, climb to the middle step and get to work writing in my attic world. I wrote mostly poems and tried my hand at mystery novels, which were complete copies of my beloved Nancy Drew books. I found an old Russell Stover Chocolates box – our attic steps were a bit of a landing for random items deemed “might be useful one day” – and kept my stories safely inside along with the plastic daisy-topped pen that I used to write them.

A few years later I discovered a book on journal writing at the library and thought that might be a better way to tap into the writer inside of me instead of penning knock-off Nancy Drew stories. I left the attic steps behind and moved on to the little desk in my bedroom. Nestled under my room’s corner windows, it was the perfect spot to write and dream.

My journal writing carried me through my teenage years and into college and beyond. I filled spiral notebooks with the usual angst and exuberances of a young girl, along with New Year’s resolutions written on snowy New Year’s Eves, private thoughts shared only with “my journal,” and more inspirational quotes than you could find in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. I also cut out pictures from magazines and pasted them into my journals – happy-looking couples, young women with great jobs, beautiful rooms, faraway travel destinations. Looking back, those pasted-in journal pages were a forerunner to Pinterest and “mood boards,” ways to help us identify our dreams and make them happen by visualizing them.

Journal writing eventually gave way to journalism school and real writing jobs and a grown-up adult life. Once I started a family, an exciting new world filled with different priorities beckoned, and my life as a writer changed course. But like the bell that goes silent in Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express, the little girl on the attic steps never really went away. She was alive and well all along, just transformed through new decades of ages and wisdom.

It feels good to be writing again. After a little more than three months, it’s too soon to know where this journey called blogging will take me. I don’t have a mood board or a mapped out plan. But like the little girl on the attic steps, I just have a desire to write.

I’m glad to know the writer with the daisy-topped pen is still around. Who knows? I may need her help one day to solve a Nancy Drew case…of writer’s block.

Polar Express
From Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express.

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