I recently had an opportunity to think hard about why I write. Simply answered, it’s because I always have liked to write, and for years I wrote for a living when I was a newspaper reporter and editor.
But the real answers are much more complex and nuanced. As I wrote recently to an old friend I hadn’t been in touch with for almost 40 years, “Writing is as essential to me as eating and breathing. I feel lost when I haven’t written.”
When I taught middle school English many years ago, I tried to emphasize the importance of writing frequently, every day if possible. I had my students keep journals, and I think to this day that was probably one of the most important things I did in the classroom, even if only one or two of them kept up the practice.
For me, writing is never, ever easy. Maybe for hacks. Serious writers are obsessed with writing, to the point where, like me their treasured books get neglected. Ever since my caregiving days ended n January I’ve felt a compulsion to write often and share what I’ve observed, thought about, experienced, felt deeply and have called forth from a lifetime of memories. And analyze myself and my past constantly. Living only in the present can be quite limiting when your mind is an expanding universe where time doesn’t matter so much, but the past and future do.
What I’m writing and posting here now is a far cry different from when I was working full-time and caregiving. Then, I was lucky if I could post something once a month, and that I as usually my Dementia Journal. Now I’ve got dozens of ideas for entries in my digital notebook on my phone, and I’m posting several times a week, much as I did in the old Open Diary days.
My mother had dementia. I worry about getting that. So basically, there are a couple of reasons why I seem to have this urgency to write: 1) the pandemic and all that entails as it has rapidly changed all our lives in so many ways, and 2) fear of losing my mind gradually. Therefore, I feel I must write while I can. My muse can take many forms. Life is full of mystery, wonder, sadness, happiness and tragedy and comedy. There are endless subjects to write about, including reminiscing about the past.
By the very fact of my urgent need to write, I have become more philosophical. Thinking deeply about anything is philosophical to me. It could also be a form of meditation. Most of what ends up in my online essays has been thought about for days or weeks. Then comes the time when it all must come out.
One of the keys to writing optimally is to write often, every day, for myself and my intended audience, and even if I have to do it in the middle of the night or early in the morning. Personally, I can’t have a set time to write.
I’ve become obsessed with writing. There seems to be no let up. Time feels like it’s always running out. I’m constantly thinking of essays I want to write. I’m content with this audience, or potential audience of readers, however few there are. It’s the same now as at my heyday at Open Diary where I started in 1999. I think the fact that there seem to be thousands of other people keeping journals here at PB attests to the fact that I am not alone in my thinking on this subject.
Writing is the happy end result of so much mental activity that is saved and not lost. That is a powerful feeling of accomplishment.
Last updated September 18, 2020