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Wednesday, August 05, 2020

A Letter To Myself As A Younger Writer

Dear Younger Writer,

When you decided you wanted to become a writer at the tender age of seven, you being a little black girl growing up in a low income housing development where dreams often got deferred, overheard the whispered voices of a few saying, "That girl dreamin' dreams that don't have a chance in coming true." 

Although you were shy, although people often told you to speak up, speak louder, or to stop staring at your shoes when they were speaking with you, there was something that reared up inside of you because of their doubt, what I now know to be, your unrelenting conviction, this audacity to believe in your dream of being a writer no matter what. 

You dipped yourself in this self assurance as if it was delicious rich dark chocolate every morning. At nightfall, after your writing was done and you tucked your notebook full of stories under your pillow or hid your loose pile of typed pages in your dresser drawer in the bedroom you shared with your sister, you closed your eyes, contented. 

You, younger writer, knew even at that young age that the sound of a pen gliding across a blank page or the pecking of your fingers on the keys of a typewriter or keyboard would be cathartic and I would find that out one day too. It is why you wrote for hours on end on the weekend when school was out or summer break. You only came up for air when you needed sustenance. You carried your notebooks around like they were an appendage of your body. 

You, younger writer, showed me the importance of seeking solitude, how to grow quiet to gather my thoughts and stow myself away from distractions in order to write. Although our mother was concerned about you choosing to write instead of going outside to socialize with your friends, she in time understood you. She realized she was not an accessory to you becoming an introvert, instead she was allowing you to be the creative being you were in the space you were most secure and at ease in. 

Fast forward to your teenage years...teenage rebellion took a hiatus because you were too preoccupied with telling stories. Your voice grew in boldness and you had to have your say about everything from pop culture, boys, friendships, fashion, and what was wrong in the world.  

When you became a young adult, you were ready for others to read your words, your voice more sharpened but still in pursuit of its own pulse. You started testing the waters and sending work out to magazines. You got rejection after rejection but you never gave up. Your perseverance paid off. You became a published writer. You celebrated, that and every publication afterwards no matter how small or far between. You taught me to do the same through all the seasons of my life.  

Thank-you younger writer for helping me remember that other people's opinions are just that, their opinions, and they should never derail your dreams.Thank you for reminding me about the younger self I once was so many years ago, who wrote not because she wanted to be successful, which of course is what most writers hope for, but wrote because she was passionate about her craft and that passion reverberated in every part of her being. 

                                                                                                    Signed and sealed with love,

What would you say in a letter to the younger writer you once were? 
Jeanine DeHoney's writing has been published in numerous magazines, anthologies, and blogs. Her stories are always "full" of the voices of the women who loved and nurtured her.


  1. Jeanine--I've done this before--a letter to my younger self--but it was always letter in general. I never did one as one younger writer to my older writer self. What a powerful piece to write--the things we reveal and realize as we write it.

    There are many gems, among them:

    "...your voice more sharpened but still in pursuit of its own pulse."

    "That girl dreamin' dreams that don't have a chance in coming true."

    "You carried your notebooks around like they were an appendage of your body."

    "You dipped yourself in this self assurance as if it was delicious rich dark chocolate every morning."

    Thanks for showing us (and not telling us) your journey as a writer... in such a rich way. ;)

  2. Remember that you love to write and that you would write no matter what. If no one read it or paid you or if you never published anything. Because writing is a part of you and a form of self-care for you. So keep writing.

  3. Thanks so much Sioux. I too think we all should write a letter to our younger self in general. In doing so you get clarity and understand why you've chosen the life path you're on now.

  4. Yes Theresa. So true. "Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else." -Gloria Steinem

  5. I think I'd tell myself to remember the joy I experienced in using my imagination to create something for...well, the pure joy of it.

    Wanting success, wanting validation, can rob of us that joy we had when we were young. Thanks for reminding me why I wrote in the first place, Jeanine!

  6. Your welcome Cathy. Yes, when we as writers focus so intently on the end result of getting published and being successful- our joy gets stolen. Our younger selves can remind us of the girl/young woman that wrote for the "pure joy of it."

  7. I think I would tell myself that it's okay to write poems that don't rhyme, stories that may not make sense to others, and essays that only I would understand. Like others have said, I worried to long about chasing some version of success that wasn't necessarily my path. This is a beautifully written letter, Jeanine, and I savored it like one of those dark pieces of chocolate!


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