Something that ignites the 20-year-old you

I have to tell you something about me at age 22, which is rather embarrassing, but first, I need to acknowledge what’s going on in our livewriting space with EMERGE. This month has felt absolutely incredible so far, and that has darn near everything to do with you. Over 245 writers registered for EMERGE and almost 70 of you are showing up regularly. (Shout out to those other 175: you’re not alone! We are writing, and confessing that we roll our eyes about having to show up, then we show up, and the world is a better place for at least an hour that day. Join us!)

I’m making a mess of my novel draft, typing blind into a blank document each day, with full permission to write terribly. It works. I am not rereading a single word I write which means I am not indulging in opinions about what I draft. I am simply writing my way forward through the muck with the goal of seeing what gems I might wash clean on April 30th when I hit print.

Multiply that times 70, or times 245, and I have to tell you folks…this is what MOMENTUM and COMMUNITY and AUTHENTIC ENGAGEMENT feel like, even across the wires and through the screens.

Flashback twenty-one years ago and I’m a senior at Whitman College. It has been a fruitful four years (which I am STILL paying for now, thank you education loans), where I’ve felt free to be odd, smart, depressed, elated, aggressive, strong, fat, not fat, experimental, confused, happy and lots more. I have played rugby and finally kissed boys. Lots of them. I hadn’t kissed ANYONE before I got to college and by then was afraid my lips were going to fall off my face before someone would notice me, so I had a lot…pent up.

But I digress. This thing I did when I was 22, feeling very adult, had no explanation other than the fact that every Friday morning my entire senior year, I woke up and declared to my tiny college world: IT’S FRIDAY FUN DAY. I actually said that, out loud, to myself.

Then I sat at my desk in my pajamas, and hand wrote an inspirational message about how good life could be or an “imagine if all around the world people were…” type of thing and got up from the desk. Next? I walked to the Counseling Office (sometimes still in my pajamas; not kidding) and made copies of this message on brightly colored paper. I then proceeded to plaster THE ENTIRE CAMPUS with fliers, sometimes leaving little piles of candy in my wake. I put them on desks before classes, taped them to light poles, left them at the Student Union, shoved them in mailboxes, taped them to bathroom stalls.

Every Friday. All. Year. Long.

No one said much, except sometimes “Thanks” or “This is great” or “What the…?”

And yet the same places greeted me every Friday morning, knowing why I was there, why I was (often) in pajamas, and that I had something to pass along. The chef at the cafe in the student union always wanted his copy. The Counseling office was all over it. My rugby teammates sometimes helped me with distribution. It just became…a thing I did, no questions asked.

But one day, someone did ask and of all the people who might have spoken up, this person was someone I held in high regard: Hash, or Professor Hashimoto, my writing teacher. 

After class one Friday, he called me into his office. “Why do you think you do Friday Fun Days, Katey?”

And for the first time, it occurred to me that I honestly didn’t know. I had no idea why I was doing what I was doing, except that it brought me joy to bring people together over a completely random, positive, untouchable thing. I think I said this, to answer his question, but maybe I also shrugged. I was so in the moment, I didn’t have much reflection to offer at the time.

I haven’t thought about that moment with my professor in years. But this month, hosting EMERGE, now I know why I wrote those messages, and what I might have said to Hash if I’d had a glimpse of the future: “I’m doing this because one day I’ll run my own business and it will include the financial and creative freedom to experiment in ways that support others and myself, along the creative path.” And now, I’d add: “I’m also doing this because engaging in life in a way that allows us to REALLY FEEL into something–sadness, joy, hope, uncertainty, fluidity–is what ACTUALLY LIVING IS. It’s my job to live as well as I can; I cannot remember a single day of my life where I have not felt that way.”

Hit Reply Questions

Here are this month’s provocations. As always, I relish your replies and love writing back. Contact me now and fill me in:

  • When you look back on your life, was there something you were absolutely compelled to do, to the point that it never even occurred to you to explain why? Now that you know what you know, what might you say about the “why” that you couldn’t articulate back then?
  • If you signed up for EMERGE and feel hesitant to come, why? This is a NO SHAME space, so use this message to reply to me about what’s holding you back. Maybe livewriting isn’t what you need, but I bet something else is and I’ll do what I can to help you get it.
  • Are you reading this blog post after the fact (later than April 2022)? No worries! Reach out to me anyway and let me know if a livewriting accountability session like EMERGE would be of use to you.

Are you on my newsletter list? When you sign up, you’ll get my monthly questions and you’ll also receive the 5 S’s Applied to Story downloadable PDF.  I send emails approximately every month with mini craft essays, special notices, early-bird registrations, and announcements for subscribers only.  No spam, ever; and your email address is never shared. Sign up here.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.