"The most important function my writing serves is to help me make sense of life in general - and my own in particular."
Those words are as true for me today as they were 10 years ago when I wrote them in the “about” page on my first blog. Writing things down in almost any format - from a hastily scribbled list or a soul searching journal entry to a carefully considered essay -writing clarifies my thinking, opens a channel for new ideas, and relieves anxiety and tension.
Because writing is often the midwife to new ways of thinking, or a working out of one’s feelings on the page, it’s most appreciated when one is in the midst of a particularly unsettling period of life.
So it begs the question: How does being happy with life in general play out in one’s writing? Does a writer need a pinch of angst as seasoning for the pot? Is being happy and content a deterrent to deeply expressive writing, the kind that connects emotionally with readers?
When the poet and novelist May Sarton moved to Maine into a house high above the sea, she wrote that “the sea was such a tranquilizer that I sometimes wondered whether I had made a fatal mistake and would never be able to write again. Was it that happiness was harder to communicate she wondered, “or that when one is happy enough there is little incentive even to try to sort out daily experience as it happens?"
Most often these days, my writing comes from a place of being “happy enough,” a place for which I’m more than grateful. But as Sarton suggested, sometimes happiness is harder to communicate. Consistently writing that “life is good” smacks of being narcissistic, of wallowing in good fortune. I’m forever mindful of the many goodnesses in my current life, but I’m not immune to trepidation, to the ever-present reality that good times will and do come to an eventual end.
So while writing can serve my need for analysis and catharsis in equal measure, writing is also my way of engaging in conversation - with myself, but also with you, dear reader. Blog writing has become like an ongoing correspondence for me, a perfect way for an introvert such as myself to reach out and effect the connection I so yearn for. When you carry on the conversation with your comments and messages, you help me write the ending to whatever story I’m trying to convey. So in these pages I write to you of my contentment, but also of my fears. I share ideas that have touched me, insights gleaned from reading or living. I express wonder, indignation, concern. I give you fragments of my life, pieces of my heart.
I write it all down for you in hopes that we might make sense of it all together.
How about you? What helps you make sense of life in general and your own in particular?