I think it’s time that I introduce myself to this new space that I’m writing in. You can’t just rush onto a page and begin telling it stories like you know each other. You have to get acquainted. Clear the air. Rid any assumptions and awkward silences. Hello, WordPress. I’m Ashley. There. That already feels a little better.
If you’re joining me on this little blog, hello to you, too. I’m glad to have you here and following my words. Listening to my stories. And I have a lot of stories to tell. What I envision for this space is a place for re-imagining. Often our experiences and memories become ropes that tie us or consign us to an identity that we accept as true and binding. They don’t let us go and they shape who we are. They’re seen as an unalterable truth of our past and we are their product, chewed up and spit out; soggy and mangled pieces of chewed up meat with daddy issues. Ta-da!
Thomas King in his (fantastic) book, The Truth About Stories, argues that “The truth about stories is that that’s all we are.” And I believe this. We are all lumps of stories. Stories that we have lived. Stories that we have heard. Stories that we were born into and stories that we created. But these stories are not static. They are not still etches of time, burned into our skin and bones. They are fluid. They change. They grow. They shed off their skin and are reshaped by time and experience. Stories have a purpose and a memory at particular moments in time, with different perspectives and motives to be explored by different characters and audiences and contexts. When Thomas King suggests that we are stories, well, all of that must be considered. We are stories and we are fluid. We change. We are not consigned to one identity of memory. And so, we re-imagine these stories with different perspectives of time and experience and we reclaim our changing identities.
That’s what I envision for this blog. I envision a place to re-imagine and re-claim our stories and our identities. My stories. My identity. I am going to be writing different pieces of fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, essays, bits of my life currently and my life past. I’ll be exploring the stories that I have heard and witnessed from friends and family. Neighbors. Passerbys. Our culture. Our history. Our politics. Our children. And I encourage you to join me. I do not like writing in a vacuum. I thrive on communities that speak. And I hope that you speak. Talk in the comments. How do your stories fit into mine? How are they reflections of a bigger story? A smaller story? I want to hear your voice. You can do this in the comments or on instagram where I regularly post pictures and tell smaller stories.
So, here I am. I’m 31 years old and have been writing for a long time. Is that even old enough to be considered someone who has been writing a long time? Surely not. I journal and have dabbled with a few blogs over the course of my life. I stopped writing personally when I went to graduate school and received an MA in literature and learned how to begin researching and writing academically. It’s a damn racket, but I enjoy it. I even applied to a few doctoral programs in the fall. But that’s another story for a different day. One I’m still wrestling with. I grew up and still live in coastal Virginia. I have a husband and three children. All of whom I love and who put up with me. I am estranged from all of my parents. Biological and step. All four of them. And all four of my half brothers and sisters. My ancestors are complicated and messy. As are they all. They come to me in dreams and in memories and in my children. They are who I write the most about. Who haunt my stories and continue to shape my identity in very strange and profound ways.
So, there you go. An introduction. A few expectations and parameters for this space, which I’m sure to shatter and change throughout the course of writing here. And did I mention that I’m glad you’re here? Because I am. And I’d love to hear your story, too.