White Girl Diaries / by Vanessa Fiola

**The next 10 days I'll be posting 500 words a day here as part of a creative writing challenge. Join the FB group.**

I can’t believe we are already two-thirds of the way through. This is my third-and-a-quarter time participating in this challenge. I include the quarter, which is generous, because one time this challenge was 500 words a day for 10 days, but the catch was that you had to write something fictional each day. While I prefer to think of what I write here as creative essaying, it’s loosely truth-based, and probably more aptly categorized as technically non-fiction. Anyway, I failed. Which is not surprising considering I started college thinking I’d be a creative writing major and ended up as English lit because the former gave me anxiety.  

I have yet to finish one of these challenges within 30 consecutive days. I’ve doubled up on entries when I’ve fallen behind; I’ve written double-sized posts as a substitute, too. Even then, I’ve been late. I have chastised myself, shame-guilted myself—not sure which—and anything else that qualifies as a self-flagellation spiral.

Last time though, Kate (Stone), Kirk, Beka and Joslyn (and probably several others), all finished on time. I felt lonely and sad on my own. I envied their finished-ness. I made a commitment then that I never ever wanted to feel that way again. It was an unnecessarily dramatic reaction, but my personality sometimes requires that.

When Kirk and Ashley threw down the gauntlet this time, I ignored it until the last possible minute. I'm not even sure why, but finally I jumped in with a resolute “f*ck it”—if one can be both *shrug* and lockjaw at the same time.

I am a consummate commitment-phobe. I can’t even commit to buying the quart-sized Straus yogurts, because does anyone really know what’s going to happen between now and the next three weeks. In previous challenges, I never consciously gave myself an out, it’s just that work is always a busy mess or required a lot of travel or I am boarding a tiny terrorist. This time, two things are different for me:

1.     I made up my mind that I didn’t have any other options. This has meant that I have woken up an hour after midnight and started feverishly writing when I accidentally fell asleep at 10pm, or that I’ve put a bunch of words on a page without going over it before posting. It’s taken a bit more letting go than I'm typically comfortable with. 

2.     Honestly, I’ve been forgoing sleep, which I don’t necessarily recommend. I am planning on sleeping for a couple of days at the end of this. Please don’t wake me.

For reasons I can’t really remember now, we hired a child therapist when Jonah was almost three. Oh, I just remembered that we hired her because he was acting like a complete asshole. She was great, and more for us than for him. She repeatedly told us that children do best with structure. It is critical for his confidence, she said. Her words struck me because I grew up in a house of sheer mayhem, and to this day I need to trick myself into doing anything that requires sustained grit. I wondered how things might have been different. I think I’ve gotten a small taste of that, 20 days in. The practice of every day has provided a sense of comfort and joy and I’m already wondering what I can take on next month. After I sleep, I mean.