Sunday, April 17, 2011

Writing the Words

(This post was inspired by the lovely Meleah, who asked the question 'Where do you write?' In this post. You should read it. And everything she writes.)

I was answering the question this morning 'Where do you write?' I found myself not so much answering the 'where' as the 'why'. I've been writing since I was eight years old. Stories, terrible poems mercifully lost to the ages; it seems that I have only ever been happy if I had a place to put down whatever I had to say. When I was 11 my aunt gave me a blank journal for Christmas. It was a large one; 8 1/2 by 11 with a pebbled black cover and my initials inside that she'd placed there in bold black rub-on transfer. Something about the size and heft of that book impressed me. This was no dainty pink book with a feeble, pickable lock, a diary worthy of Brady Bunch episodes and afterschool specials. This was a book that promised permanence and seriousness. Of course, I still filled its pages with nonsense about boys and when I might get my period.  I wish I still had both that journal and a later, prompt-filled journal called 'The Judy Blume Diary' that I filled cover to cover, because I'm quite certain they are filled with entries both hilarious and cringeworthy. I don't know what happened to either of them.Since then I've written in tiny leatherbound volumes, colorful blank books from bookstore clearance tables, dollar composition books, and, of course, in the flat blank spaces of Blogger.

I've written on airplanes, on trains, hunched in stairwells of political party offices in Belfast,  in museums, on park benches, brooding by lakes, on bluffs overlooking summer camp waterfronts, on my couch in the wee hours when all my petty worries organized and presented a unified current of sleep-chasing anxiety. Lately I write at my cluttered kitchen table, despite a clear and perfectly serviceable desk in my bedroom, because the desk does not afford a pool of sun for the cat to sleep in.

In 2003 I undertook a major challenge; a 150 mile bike ride, and wrote 'dispatches' about my training and preparation. I emailed them to interested friends because other than some vague awareness of Salon. com, I didn't know about blogging. I started blogging the year we moved from our suburban home outside of Philadelphia to very rural North Central PA, mostly to cope with the four months of separation required by the move, since my husband  had to be up here in July and my then-job obligated me to stay within striking distance of Delaware until October. Once I got here I blogged to cope with the fact that I was a 'flatlander' who felt like I'd moved into a Larry the Cable Guy anecdote. 

People tell me I should write more. This is made difficult by the fact that these days I make a concerted effort to do less brooding than I used to. The 'humor' part of my brain has another passenger, one more Plath than Bombeck. Skimming along the surface and not peering overmuch into the depths keeps her contributions to a minimum and this is good all the way around. Or maybe I should be honest and say its easier. Maybe its just time to let go and Write the Words without restraint like I did when I was young and everything was raw, critical, vital and my internal censor was engaged elsewhere.

I can't promise it'll be pretty. Heck, I can't promise it'll be coherent. But whether you were here from the beginning or a new reader I hope you can say 'at least I'll enjoy the ride'.

10 comments:

Jen said...

I've kept journals since I was in third grade. Not the Brady Bunch kind that you so well described but just blank notebooks, the kind handed out in school, not loose leaf paper but a bound book. Anyway, I filled at least 20 of those blue books and still have them. They are indeed cringe worthy but there was also something wonderful about them. We had to keep a journal for school but were told they were not looked at by the teachers so were free to write whatever we wanted. And I did. And I can truly say the teachers didn't look at them because I had some pretty interesting stuff and if they had read them they would have called either my parents or some professional because I had some issues. Anyway, the words I wrote in those books were raw and editing was non existent but they were mine and they helped me sort out what was in my head. Much like blogging does now. Though I must admit I find the more I blog the more I am aware of what I am writing and especially who is reading my words.

Sorry, I just took that road and kept walking didn't I?

I love this post. It isn't about the where as much as about the write.

ccraley said...

That journal was the best investment I ever made!
Love You... Aunt Carol

Shieldmaiden96 said...

Jen-- I envy your continuity. My journaling, like my blogging, has holes in it, weeks and months where I poised over a blank page and censored myself into silence. I want to get past that tendency.

Aunt Carol: I still remember feeling super special because I felt like I'd been given a grown up present. It was permission to speak, permission to be taken seriously. I still judge a journal not by the picture on the cover but by whether the weight of the paper would play nicely with my fountain pen. :)

meleah rebeccah said...

Oh!! Thanks for the mention. And I LOVE that you shared all of this with us. You rock!

MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

You should write more, and this post proves why. You're a very good writer, Kim. Well-organized, coherent, thought-provoking, funny and serious. I'm glad you're back at it....

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

Started journaling since 10th grade...started with little notebooks, now I type in my netbook, but not sure it feels the same. Plan to get a new journal soon. Which reminds me...remember the ones you got me for Christmas? Are they still at your house?! I can't find them anywhere!

Jenn Thorson said...

Your writing is always clever and eloquent, so I imagine it would be a good read regardless. But I do enjoy your sense of humor as well.

Lin said...

I like when you write and I too, wish you did it more. :)

I can write anywhere, but I have to get my mind in the right place. I like the concept of "Daily papers"--where you write every single day and unedited. I like the thoughts that brew that way.

Shieldmaiden96 said...

Mike and Jen T: Thank you...I appreciate the encouragement and plan to continue with more dedication than I had previously!

Lisa: Your notebooks are at our house. I'll send them with Bryan on Sunday so you can get them!

Lin: I like the idea of that as well. I think I get hung up when I sit down with the idea (or don't sit down, because no inspiration is forthcoming) that some kind of masterpiece has to be about to spring forth whole at that moment or I 'don't have a post'.

meleah rebeccah said...

I second what MWJ said.