Thursday, October 4, 2012

Follow Your Own Weirdness

When I first read that one of the topics for consideration was transitions, my 25-years of English teacher brain immediately rifled through my writing files. A handout I usually provide my students is information on transitional words and phrases, and what they signal. Otherwise, they will continue to use “OMG” as their go-to word. I explain that transition words exist as glue and bridges to close the gap between ideas, to move from one place to another.
I rarely, probably never, arrive at epiphanies about life when I’m voyaging through grammar land.
Until now.
All the life transitions I experienced weren’t interruptions, annoyances to be tolerated like Great Aunt Thelma’s cheek-pinching at family reunions. They were bridges, moving me forward. Mostly to places on the other side I may have never expected. But, without them, I’d be stuck. On the shore. Scared. Because I wouldn’t have, couldn’t have, summoned the courage.
In high school I was an introvert. I rarely spoke in class, never joined clubs or played any sports. I spent four years in self-exile in the land of insecure. I was perpetually self-conscious about my hair, my body, my clothes, my everything-or lack of it.
And I crossed years and years and years of bridges until I came upon this suggestion to new writers. Annie Dillard, in the introduction she wrote to Lee Gutkind's anthology, In Fact: The Best of  Creative Nonfiction, said that new writers needed to “follow their own weirdness.”
Finally, permission.
Most of my life, following my own weirdness did not require a GPS. They were, for the most part, short trips. In fact, my mother always told me that I attracted quirky, weird friends. [But, of course, not any of you who happen to be my friends reading this.]
Perhaps that's why I crossed the bridge to became a teacher. And then a writer. Now, I'm not only surrounded by weirdness, I invite it. Not creepy weird, like the character in the Austin Powers movie who saved his flaky skin in a box. But weird as defined by those unafraid to be themselves.
I’m still on my journey. On the edge of celebrating my 60th birthday, I’m praying to cross the world’s longest bridges. There’s a lifetime of weirdness waiting for me to write it out.
P.S. This is a link to the world’s most stunning bridges. Enjoy.

Christa Allan is the author of Walking on Broken Glass, The Edge of Grace, and Love Finds You in New Orleans. Her next novel, Threads of Hope, will release in March of 2013. She and her husband live in New Orleans where they're learning how to take care of a home that's older than their combined ages. Christa teaches high school English. She hopes to retire soon. Very soon. You can find Christa at Twitter (ChristaAllan),Facebook, and


  1. OMG! Christa - I love your post today! So much I had go and Tweet it.

    I'm looking forward to reading "Threads of Hope."

  2. Thanks, Julie! You're going to be in Nashville next weekend, right? Look forward to seeing you.

  3. What an inspirational post! Maybe your next transition will involve becoming a motivational speaker. :)

    Loved every word of this, Christa.

  4. Christa,
    What a *beautiful* post!! And I love the transition image as being one of crossing a bridge.
    Wishing you a very, very happy birthday, too ;).