Posted in Contemplations

Why I Write by Ginger Keller Gannaway

In 1968 I got a 3×5 inch red five-year diary with a tiny lock and key to protect all the wisdom and intrigue I would pour onto its pages. Each day of the year was allowed four lines, and profundity like “Today I quit playing paper dolls forever” (first entry) or “Kelly made her confirmation. It lasted 2 and a half hours. But it was comfortable with the new cushioned pews” (last entry) filled its pages.

I was a faithful writer for four years, never neglecting to document a day’s monumental trivia. I hid these pencil-written treasures in the bottom drawer of the heavy blonde oak night table next to my bed. Two years ago I reread my 12-year-old regimented thoughts and found at least three interesting entries over that four year span.

A year before I received my diary, I had tried to write a children’s book. I made up a tale about a rabbit and a crawfish and mailed off this masterpiece to the “Be a Writer!” course advertised in the back of an Archie comic book. The writing professionals sent me a typed letter that proclaimed I had “potential”! They promised me fame and publishing creds if I sent them $50. My dad exposed the company for the scam it was, and in 1967 I decided I should settle for being a world class actress instead of a writer.

 Still I kept writing, and in 1971 I traded my red diary for a blue 8×13 ledger that expanded my writing experience. I no longer wrote every day, and a day’s entry could take up four full pages. I obsessed over fights with my sisters and crushes on boys I was terrified to talk to. My ideas danced around philosophical questions like why cousin Gina liked my sister Gayle more than me or who Bobby G. was taking to the homecoming dance. Also, my Barbra Streisand fanaticism screamed from these pages because I always wrote her name in all caps and underlined it.

Intro page of my ledger journal

Despite the banality of what I wrote, I still felt compelled to fill the ledger’s pages and apologized for sometimes letting weeks go by between entries. After the blow of the children’s book writing course, I no longer believed I was a writer; however, I needed to write for my own sanity. When I read To Kill a Mockingbird in ninth grade I loved Scout’s thoughts on being a reader before she went to school: “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

         When I move my pen across blank pages, ideas often come faster than I can write. Even if I later loathe what I’ve written, I feel stronger and saner. Now that I have the time to write every day, a day is not pointless if I have made time to write something down. Life is somehow easier if I write. It’s my Balm in Gilead, my parade I don’t want people raining on, and the actual rain that washes dust and bird poop off my car.

         As much as I hate the word “blog” because it sounds like a portmanteau of “blah” and “slog,” I’ll keep posting essays online because it feels equally right and ugly. I may be vomiting words that are unworthy of others’ attention, but filling pages in notebooks lets me process life’s joys and tragedies. I write for myself for sure, yet pressing the “Publish” button on a wordpress blog gives me a jolt of bravery that I think I’m addicted to.

Some of my journals for the last few years

Author:

I grew up as a crooked girl who dealt with a mild case of cerebral palsy. In a small Cajun town during the 1960s, I relied on my little sisters' support and energy to give me confidence and our grandma's movie theater to help me escape when life's "pas bon" moments overwhelmed me.

12 thoughts on “Why I Write by Ginger Keller Gannaway

  1. Please never quit writing… I love to read your stories and since I can’t write stories, I have to rely on you! Love you sweetheart…Aunt Faye!

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  2. Ginger, I just discovered your writings (I won’t refer to them as blogs) and I am hooked! I hope you remember me from many years ago. Your dad was a very treasured friend of my dad’s and Emile was always so kind to invite my folks to an annual crawfish boil each year. Keep that pen moving! It makes me smile! Kathy

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    1. Kathy, thanks so, so much for reading and commenting! I do remember you and both your parents! Dad enjoyed telling stories of Eunice good times with them. This pandemic has given me the isolation and the time to write, something I’ve always wanted to do. Weird how I’ve been in Texas for 36 years, but I’m still so connected to all my Cajun past. Your comments made me all warm and happy on this cold February morning!

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      1. Ginger, I just read the one about the Liberty! Boy, that one brought me way back! I didn’t know your grandfather owned it! How could I not have known that?? Where are you in Texas? I’ve been here since I was 19 (I won’t count how many years that’s been…too many!) but I will always be a Cajun at heart. My dearest friends are those from Eunice. Did I read that you and your husband were both teachers? Assuming you are retired now? I’m a retired middle school science teacher. That would make quite a few of my old teachers chuckle. I’m so glad I found your writings! Stay warm!

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      2. I’m living in Austin. We are both retired teachers. Gary taught ESL and I taught middle school and high school English. So, so glad I don’t have to mess with virtual learning now! Our youngest son is a high school teacher. Where do you live?

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      3. Hey Ginger. I’m in a suburb of North Fort Worth. I taught ESL for a year…didn’t have a clue of what I was doing but I sure loved my kids! I’m also glad I missed all the virtual stuff. It’s sure been a crazy year (and a half). How many kids? Any grandkids?

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