I Am A Pen | @phettehollins

In 1989, my 9th grade English teacher, Mr. Bowersox, introduced me to journaling. I used a calendar to document trivial things like, how much time I spent with my then, no-good boyfriend. I drew cute, little hearts to notate the times we had sex…

Related sidebar: Couldn’t just be blatantly writing that out for my mom’s eye to see. I even took up Speedwriting (modern day shorthand) in the 10th grade solely to encrypt my journals. I still use it every now & then.

Speedwriting example. Yes, it’s a real thing.

…and I used X’s to track my periods. That’s pretty much all I journaled about until I graduated from high school.

I stopped Speedwriting in my journals because I decided that, when I die, I want my girls to see what mindset I was in at the time, and hopefully, understand me better, without having to decipher codes. Because…in between those ruled lines I bear everything! My emotions…my feelings…my indiscretions. I purge on the page.

I saw Tyler Perry on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2004. He talked about how writing was cathartic (first time I had heard this word) for him, and helped relieve the pain he’d experienced. So, he turned his pain into plays…books…movies…t.v. shows… Y’all know the rest.

In 2005, I was like “I got some thangs I think the world needs to hear.”  I started writing my autobiography, only to get discouraged a few pages in when I realized I wasn’t ready to be transparent and have folks all up in my business.

So….I did nothing. For 5 years. I was stuck.

I was still journaling while watching movies on Lifetime like “Really? I cooda did better than that.” Out of desperation, in 2010, I took to Facebook by writing the simple post:


My life shifted after that, just from writing those 4 words. A young woman I went to high school with sent me 2 books on screenwriting, which I didn’t seriously consider doing before and what would ultimately become my passion. Yes, I would yell at the t.v. after Lifetime movies, but never believed I could make a movie or anything remotely close…until I saw the web show The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae.

I was introduced to my mentor Sylvia Hubbard; I joined her writing network and, one year later, in 2011, I self-published my 1st book of short stories.

There’s always time for storytelling. Remember when…or…Back in the day…or…Yesterday I….

As I began to write more, I noticed 2 universal emotions: LOVE & PAIN. We all need love and wanna know the secrets to get and keep it, and we’ve all experienced pain and wanna know how to heal from it. Stories help us with that.

“Everybody has a story inside of them.” -Oprah

Suddenly, it all made sense. As a youth, I was inquisitive. Now, some folks call it nosy but I don’t. ‘Cuz, see, there’s a difference, and here it is…

I don’t want to know your business just for the sake of knowing it; I want to know so that I can understand who YOU are.

The class clown…the bully…the obnoxiously loud chick…the super quiet kid…the neighborhood hoe…

Do you ever wonder why a person behaves the way (s)he does? Well….I do!

It all makes sense. It explains why I get along with most people, and even those that others have a propensity to gossip about & judge. It’s because I can see their (back) stories.

We all need love. We’ve all been hurt. That’s our connection. That’s what connects US.

I write to share.


My tattoo of a quill pen, ink, and book

Published by phettehollins

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