“Hi! as you know my name is Xazmin Garza. I’m 11 years old. I’m in the sixth grade. …”
That’s how the second page of my first journal begins, Dec. 26, 1988. And, that’s when my fate as a writer began.
You often hear people say that writing is therapeutic. It certainly can be. But, for true writers, it’s also agonizing.
The late, great Nora Ephron said, “The hardest thing about writing is writing.” When you care deeply about the placement of every word and comma, the rhythm of each sentence, the impact of the introduction and conclusion, writing is very hard.
But the reward of reading the final product, taking a step back from it and feeling what it’s like to create something you’re proud of? Well, that’s beautiful.
That first journal of mine ends Nov. 13, 1990, the day a boy asked me to be his girlfriend on the steps of Valley Junior High. It didn’t take two years to finish that journal. It just took two years to find a happy ending. I was officially a storyteller.
Of course, the sequel, the journal that followed, documents how that same boy broke my eighth-grade heart. Nothing like unrequited love to inspire vitriolic verses. I was officially a poet.
The harder life hit me, the harder my pen hit those pages.
During the next 12 years, there were many more journals. The gossip morphed into rich reporting. The words slowly turned into prose. The events became stories, complete with fully developed characters, plots and dramatic conclusions. The poems were my heart’s songs.
The year I became a journalist, 2002, the journaling ironically stopped.
When you do something you love all day long, you either bring it with you when you come home, or look forward to a break from it. My journal consequently became nothing more than a book of record. No artistry to be found.
The storytelling lost its grip and the poetry ceased altogether.
I was too busy reporting and writing for newspapers to find time for a personal journal. Too busy researching beats such as seniors, health and fashion to nail the perfect beat of a poem. Too busy interviewing strangers to conduct a heart-to-page conversation with myself. Too busy jotting down the details of someone’s suit, living room or office to detail my social life, career or marriage.
So, I didn’t. And, now, 11 years later, it’s calling. I miss writing, not necessarily about myself, Lord knows I still do that, but for myself.
Since announcing my move to Boston, the resounding question is “What are your plans?” I will announce a small part of them in next week’s column, but my overall plan is simple: to write. In which medium to write is where it gets complicated. I’m taking six months off to figure it out.
Whether my full-time career will continue down the newspaper path is uncertain, but I will always be a journalist. My first journal may have planted the writer seed within, but nature provided the journalistic attributes.
I will always have the kind of curiosity that kills nervous silences. I will always have observational skills keen enough to notice when female colleagues are wearing new bras. I will always be the one friends delegate to tell the story.
When my husband took a job in Boston, his professional future encroached on mine. I don’t know exactly what I will create with my writing, but I do know that 13 years of journaling and 11 years of journalism will enrich the process.
That first journal, complete with its own combination lock, features a photo of a girl gazing out a window on its cover. Below her are these words:
“Sometimes I need to be alone, thinking, dreaming on my own. Trying to see what makes me ‘me’ … Following my own special path.”
That is what I plan to do in Boston. One painful and pleasurable word at a time.
Because, as you know, my name is Xazmin Garza. I’m 36 years old. And I’m a writer.
Contact Xazmin Garza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0477. Follow her on Twitter @startswithanx.