Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Finding The Writer In Me

When I was a kid, there were a few years that I got diaries as birthday or Christmas gifts. I wasn't thrilled. I never managed to keep up with regular entries and I felt I had a pretty boring life. Not much to write about. I wasn't that great at writing letters either. I would write to a cousin once in a while but that was about it. The majority of my writing was done for school assignments.

After I started working at summer camp, I did start writing letters on a more regular basis, as I really wanted to keep in touch with some of the people I had met. At that time long distance phone calls could get really expensive. The further away the more/minute. Stamps were cheap. I managed to keep up regular correspondence with three or four people and was writing 6-8 letters a month for a year or two. Then, as life so often happens, there is less to say and friends drift off to other interests. I still wrote individual letters at Christmas, but that was about it.

In the late 1980's, I started going through some difficult times (I wrote about trying to find inner peace back in May). I was so confused by everything that was going on in my life that I started writing a journal of random thoughts and ideas just to keep my head on straight.

It was really hard at first as I realized that if this process was going to help me at all, then I would have to be completely honest and open in my writing. That was really scary. What if someone else saw what I had written? The only way I could convince myself to do it, was to ask a friend to agree that if anything ever happened to me that they would destroy the journals before anyone else could see them.

Once I knew the writings would be safe, I felt free to write. The emotions poured out and I wrote at least a couple hundred pages of loose leaf over a year and a half. I made a lot of emotional progress in that time. I was becoming more comfortable and self confident. I was also actually managing to keep up a daily journal! Then in November, 1990, my retina in my good eye (left) detached, and I couldn't see to write or to read what I had written.

I got special reading glasses by late spring 1991, but somehow in loosing the sight, I also lost most of the ability to read hand writing - no matter how neat or legible. I've regained a bit of that ability, but it takes at least twice as long to read handwriting as simple block lettering. I did do some more writing, but it took a lot longer to write anything and that was really frustrating! As much as I needed that outlet, my heart wasn't in the writing anymore and I was terrified to go back and reread what I had written. It took me a number of years before I managed to start reading it. It was hard to read the emotional pain that I had been in, but also very encouraging to see just how far I had come. After I finished, I shredded all of those journals. It was like setting myself free.

It wasn't until I got this computer in October, 2006, that I started writing more than a grocery list! I've next to no typing skills and hadn't touched a typewriter in twenty years, so this was hard to get used to. Last fall, I joined the Y&R Wiki, and started posting comments. It didn't take me long to realize just how much I had missed writing. It did take me awhile to figure out what to do about it.

Well as you know by now, the solution was to start this blog. I can write about what interests me. I'll admit, I've written some pretty personal stuff. That isn't easy for a person like me who is generally quite private, but it is also quite therapeutic to put yourself out there from time to time.

I keep a list of blog ideas and I also make notes as I come up with new ideas or I run across something interesting that would be a perfect addition to a post. Some of the blog posts have been in draft for weeks while I figure out just what it is that I want to say and exactly how I want to say it.

My main rule of thumb? If I'm in doubt about the content, I don't put it up! I ignore it for a bit. Let it sit in draft for a few days or a even a few weeks. Then go back in and reread it when my mind has had a break and I can look at it objectively. Sometimes it looks good, sometimes it needs tweaking and other times it gets deleted and I start fresh.

Learning to let things sit and digest is a difficult lesson. I'll talk about that and more - tomorrow.


No comments: