(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'.