We’re going to get a bit meta here for a moment.
In the past I used to write about anything. I would write to write whether I had anything to actually write about or not. There was just joy in sitting down and plunking down a thought and trying to find a thread to chase, or an audience to relate too. For a long while with every post I thought this may be something to help me break through as a writer or lead to some catchy bloggy idea that would make me famous. (Hey, I’ve never been that Mature or deep down humble.)
For years this mode of blogging was fun. It kept me busy. In certain periods of my life, and still true to this day more often than not, it was also therapeutic. And yes, I’ve had this love of writing for a very long time, at least back to my freshman year of high school. My emotions often muddle; playing with words works it all out.
With the past few years though, I have wiggled and wrangled and most recently nearly abandoned this writing all together. I don’t know why really and I didn’t start out down that path intentionally.
My writing habits subtly changed over the recent years. What I wrote about at first became somewhat more defined, for me anyway.
It was music, then there was a brief spell with another blog that dealt with pop culture in 2008, and finally a journal of running over the past year or so.
Whereas in the past I wrote about my feelings, day-to-day activities and sharing way too much of the personal stuff, I found pleasure in keeping what I wrote, and where, on topic, especially with running. There is such a fantastic community in the running world.
Then I incurred the stress fractures and stopped running for a bit and one can only write about the pangs of not running for so long. Then I just kind of assumed I had nothing worth writing about any more.
I’m still not sure I do, or that I ever did. And I probably wouldn’t be writing this if it were not for that small nagging feeling that won’t let me quit.
This week alone I tried five different times to write this, and what I had to write had to be this, because nothing else would come so easily. On writing.
As soon as I started this very post it sort of smacked me, the depth and breadth and length of my piss poor meanderings.
I wrote fiction, as I alluded to, throughout high school. I studied journalism in college, partly at my parents prompting because it was economical and practical. I’d get paid to write and not do math, the latter of which I was absolutely horrible at. In college I learned to interview, write, and re-tell other people’s stories using multiple perspectives. I loved many of the other people’s stories I told.
I did that for a few years before moving to Oklahoma with someone I cared about. As I moved out there to attend graduate school with her I bought a journal. I kept it throughout that relationship. My writing turned personal. Some of it makes me flinch today. What a self-pitying little fool I often was. And so dramatic. (I’m talking both about the journal writing and me in that situation.)
When that relationship ended this bloggy thing picked up. I started my first Blogger account in 2002, then TypePad and now WordPress. Most of them were all anonymously written. I feared being read by people I knew, because a lot of what I wrote was so personal, or about those I dated. Some of that tendency to write disappeared (the writing about others directly or in mean spirit), replaced, by the writing about particular subjects broken up by somewhat more reflective ones.
Nine years, and many blog titles later, I am still drawn to writing and blogging and wondering why I feel this odd compulsion.
It’s self-absorbed (but isn’t’ all writing to an extent?), and meandering still. Sometimes I feel there are gems in what I write, like an old post I wrote about a car ride with my grandmother to visit the home her family lost in the Great Depression, or musing over my 34th birthday, and some posts about my running.
I’ve also connected with some of the coolest people around the world because of it.
There are a few bloggers from around the country and world I connected with and follow, along with a professional or two who I respect who took their time to chat it up and suggest big ideas I might pursue. I often was too flabbergasted to believe someone thought I was capable of their ideas, much less jump headfirst into pursuit. (And dear God, I still wish I could find the courage and the means to make them happen.)
Despite the sometimes good, the recent nagging thought that everyone blogs, that this writing-texting-confessing-social-media thing is just part of our age, and often times overwhelms the space for good writers to express ideas on issues that really matter, dismays me. Blogging never made me money, I’m not really that “deep” nor has any of my blogging brought me fame. A little infamy once or twice, but not fame.
So, as I wrote most of this in bed, as I should have slept before the job that does pay the bills, I wonder why I can’t just let it go.
The only half-way acceptable, and totally cheesy answer I come back to as I wind down is this; why would you ask why any creature, or person, does what they do? Birds fly. Fish swim. I write and do a bunch of other stuff that may have no answers, make no sense beyond it being my nature.
Perhaps I’ve written so long that the need for expression is as much who I am as it is hobby. I can try to channel it. I can focus it on a particular topic. I can slack off on it, but I cannot abandon it, because if I do something fundamental is wrong with where I am.
Sorry to disappoint anyone who may have read this diatribe to this point, but I think the point of On Writing is to confirm to me to continue finding my voice, especially when I doubted I really had anything else to say.
Or maybe I’m just turning into the crazy man muttering to himself on the proverbial park bench.
I should probably feed pigeons while plunking away on an iPad.