Today’s blog post is by Grace Welker, who has just launched a PubSlush crowd-funding campaign to help finance the most beautiful and engaging diary I’ve ever seen for girls. The Oasis Pages is Grace’s dream come true. By helping to fund this campaign to get diaries into girls’ hands, you can help countless dreams come true. Okay, I’ll stop talking now and let Grace tell her story:
She Passes Me a Note That Says …
How a Dream Woke Me Up
A guest blog
by Grace Welker
I’m standing near a group of teenaged girls at a picnic table outside a school-like brick building. They are talking in a very matter-of-fact way about how they are going to commit suicide. Their lack of emotion frightens me and compels me to speak, “Surely there’s another option, there has to be,” I say with calm and logic — and heart — trying not to betray my deep concern but to reach them.
The dream cuts to me walking down a dirt roadway, away from the school; one of the girls, the leader, is walking beside me. She passes me a note. I open it and read: “You cannot imagine the melancholy inside of me.”
I wake up knowing this is an important dream — and wanting to look up the word melancholy (at an online glance, it’s “a feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause”) It is spring 2012 and I am two years into a book project: creating a diary for teen girls. Not just a blank book with a pretty cover, but a diary with content — questions, quotes, words lists, prompts. I want girls to write, to give voice to their lives, to befriend themselves. And I’m stuck.
I don’t have children. I don’t actually know any teen girls. My only claim to knowing anything about teen girls is that I once was one. What was I thinking? There are people who specialize in adolescent psychology; there are moms of teen girls; others who “get” contemporary girls in the 21st Century. Things with the diary project feel bleak; not like they did when the idea first burst on the scene of my mind: a super-relevant diary that made it easy and inviting and interesting for a girl to write in.
I love this dream at once, despite its “dark” themes. For one, a teen girl chose to communicate with me — in writing! I am intrigued by the specificity of the word “melancholy,” and the definition I find. It’s a “feeling state;” hell, yes; isn’t being a teen girl ALL about the roller coaster ride of feelings?! And “pensive sadness.” Not just sadness. Sadness with thought. This is exactly up my diary alley! “With no obvious cause.” Well don’t get me started. In my humble opinion, even the most well-adjusted, sincerely loved teenaged girl can’t help but notice the imbalance in our culture (the world?) between her value as a person and her value as, well, either a sexual object or potential mother. Just being a teen girl can be enough of a cause for serious questioning about life.
I love this dream because it tells me I’m on the right track. That girls’ inner lives matter. This dream wakes me up with the knowledge that having been a teen girl is enough street cred; anyone who reads Anne Frank’s diary knows that, as Mary Piper puts it, “Culture has changed a lot but … girls need what they have always needed.” (Piper wrote Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls.)
I love this dream because it reminds me that the written word has a power all its own. And that’s one of the primary reasons I am passionate about this project to create a diary that will get teen girls writing — and keep them going.
Grace Welker is creator of the Oasis Pages Diary for Teen Girls. Through November 3, she is crowdfunding to print 2,000 copies of the diary; to pre-order a copy or donate one to a girl in need (and see a video of Grace talking about the diary), please visit www.oasispages.pubslush.com. Grace has worked in editorial roles at Kripalu Center, Omega Institute, and Sivananda Bahamas.