Friday Speak Out!: Journal Journey , guest post by Karen Turk

Friday, January 04, 2013
Ever since Miss Machin told me I was imaginative after reading my short story in grade 11 I have imagined that I am a writer. But that story was a dream I had written out as I dreamed it (my dreams come fully edited)--so I felt like I had cheated because it was so easy. Still, I decided to be a Writer.

At college, moody and broody, I sat under oak trees and wrote in my journal, carried leather or Indian mirrored cotton bags across my body stuffed with books and coloured pens and pretty cigarette packs.

I took poetry classes and loved them and wrote poems freely and easily.

In university I sometimes commuted into the city by train, gazing out the window, writing poems as the scenery rushed by. I was a Poet, too.

In the big city, I wore Birkenstocks and jeans and went to used bookstores and drank university tea in Styrofoam cups while people-watching and peeking at boys from behind Ali MacGraw hair.

I became infatuated with a handsome and quirky student poet in our Real-Poet-led poetry class and we dreamed of living a literary life together in England. I wore Annie Hall blazers and braided my hair so it would be wavy as I thought a free-spirited Writer’s Hair should be. But he was moody and broody so I moved on.

I wrote more poetry and in journals then married and had two sons. I anxiously journaled through my divorce and singlehood and falling in love again and remarrying. When my nest emptied I cried in my journal. When I stopped crying, I decided that NOW I would write my novel. Then my father died and my mother became ill and I cried some more.

The novel waited patiently.

Just when I decided to begin my novel...I got my first dog and fell in love with him!! Now I’m too busy walking and cuddling and playing with him to write except in my journal. If I was going to write a Novel, nothing would have stopped me. So I have declared myself to be Not A Writer, hoping one day to prove myself wrong.

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Karen Turk is a Library Technician and writer, living in Southern Ontario with her husband and dog.
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Anonymous said...

Love this. Truly. When we declare ourselves Writers we will inevitably be asked that fateful question, "are you writing a book?" Succumbing to the inevitable, I attempted a novel last year only to start gnawing on the thought that perhaps I don't really love writing fiction novels. I have a slew of articles out there to claim as writing and a shaky vision to carry me forward.

Love the dog. I have one of those furry distractions too! Bliss.

Sioux Roslawski said...


I have two of those four-legged distractions. One is ours and one is a foster dog.

If you haven't already, you might check out Cathy Hall's Muffin post from yesterday. She suggests some "goals" that we all can achieve--even me, the Princess of Procrastination.

Thanks for the post. And I appreciate Julie's comment. We all can't write novels. Some of us really shine at article writing. Some excel at writing memoir vignettes. Some of us write wonderful children's picture books. Not all of us are driven to write the next great American novel.

Amber Polo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amber Polo said...

Miss Machin was right. As a librarian who took a while to admit she was a writer, sometimes being surrounded by books isn't inspirational. :)
Plus dog walking is excellent for writers.
Send me an email at -
I'm looking for library people who love dogs.

Margo Dill said...

I agree--writing is not just novels! I was in a critique group where we argued this years ago and it led me to write an article, "Why Write Short Stories Anyway?" about the benefits of writing short stories! And whatever label gets you writing--Writer or Not a Writer--use it! said...

Oh Karen, you have just described ME to a tee. The idealistic hippie chick of the 70's who fancied herself to be the next Gloria Steinem or Helen Gurley Brown but then a busy life happened. To quote my favorite Beatle "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans". Thank you for saying it so eloquently. The pressure is off! The pieces of the unfinished book are back in the box and I return to being a happy middle aged woman who may someday finish it or...NOT!

Angela Mackintosh said...

I love this, Karen! I was just reading a post today that posed the question, "Why do writers start with novels?" If you think about it, shouldn't writers start with short stories or essays first? "No composition teacher would recommend recommend that a beginning composer write a symphony." Yet, for some reason, we think we have to immediately write the Great American Novel to call ourselves a writer.

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