Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sand in My Eyes

“The first time I wrote in my journal, I felt like I was stepping into a world of vast lands, both unexplored and undeveloped, and along with it came responsibility to fill it up with beauty, and to leave only meaningful footprints behind, for starting my new journal was like being a pioneer arriving in a place of natural, primitive potential where I could cultivate whatever I wanted and I could hardly wait to plow through its pages.”—Portion of the Sea

When I was a little girl and got my first diary, I filled it up before the year was over and needed a new one. At first I wrote about silly things, like the hot dogs we had for hot lunch. But soon, I wrote about more interesting things, like the adventures I was having living in a house attached to an ice-cream shop in Saugatuck, Michigan. In this thriving, summer resort town, there were lines out the door of our shop until midnight and to reach the flavors, I would stand on an upside down bucket to scoop side-by-side with my family. When I needed a break, I would sit in the sugar cone closet and write in my diary. I could hear the excitement of the customers ordering ice-cream just outside the closet. It was at this early age that I learned the significance of stepping away from the commotion of life, of being alone and of stilling one’s mind because here is where the imagination kicks in, and from where, I believe, writing originates!

Recently, my third grade son had to write an essay on what trees mean to him. I found him at my desk with his head in his hands, his pencil on the floor. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me he couldn’t think of a first sentence. I had him lay down, and then I dimmed the lights, turned Beethoven music on and told him to close his eyes and imagine waking up in the morning and going about his day with no trees.

I left the room and when I came back, I asked him what he was doing. He said, “What you told me to do, Mom,” and I said, “No, what specifically were you doing?” He then said, “I closed my eyes and tried to imagine Sanibel with no trees. There were no birds to greet me as I walked out my front door.” I told him, “Quick, write it—you’ve got your first sentence, your second, too!” And from there, from his mind, from the unique and quiet moment he had to himself listening to Beethoven in the darkened room, he produced the most amazing essay and when his nine-year-old voice read it into the microphone at the school’s Arbor Day Celebration, I had to keep from wiping my eyes.

I hope those of you who want to write are not stuck on first sentences. I have English majors as friends who tell me they can hardly write a sentence out of fear of grammatical gods chasing at their heels. I am not an English major, but I fell madly in love with writing the moment I wrote about hot dogs in my first diary. It wasn’t the hot dogs that I loved writing about but the ability to tap into my innermost self, and to have a voice, and safe place to voice my voice that had me compelled to keep a journal consistently all the way through college. And this is how I learned to write.

If you have a compelling to write, write freely and lovingly of yourself; not out of fear. And keep in mind how therapeutic writing can be. It can easily become a friend. And if you want to write something good, don’t get hung up on sentences, paragraphs, and grammar. Dip deeper into yourself, into the flavors and colors of your mind!

“The words a woman writes in her journal are lit bits and pieces of her heart, soul and mind.”—Whisper from the Ocean

For more on Christine Lemmon and her books, visit: or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Contest: Anyone who orders Sand in my Eyes from B&N and emails receipt is entered to win a beach bag full of 7 great new summer books (Jennifer Weiner, Elin Hilderbrand and more). For details click here


  1. Beautiful! I am making note of this and sending it to my grand-daughter who has been journaling since she first learned to write.
    Thank you.

    Giggles and Guns

  2. What a wonderful post, Christine! Thanks so much for joining us today and sharing your story. I love the tale of your son writing the tree essay! So sweet!


  3. What a great story and way to inspire your son, Christine. I love how you connected with him. I go through journaling phases--in one know! Im reading an ARC of Julia Cameron's new book The Creative Life and it's really a compilation of journal entries showing her creative process. Gives me journal envy!

    But it also inspires me to dig a little deeper within myself.