Sometimes I think about how I'd be described if I was a character in an Alice Munro story—makeupless in print dresses and boots, long messy hair with gray roots, direct conversation, practical second marriage, extra baby weight, a longing to escape social gatherings, a vague unease and pride about how my life's turned out. It's not terribly flattering, but comforting all the same. But I would want to leave it there—no sifting through the contents of my mind to reveal the weaknesses and unsolvable entanglements. The whimpering and prejudice.
One of my dear friends has given up writing her blog, and so doing made me ponder why I still post here. Why do I write this blog? I suppose the answer is simple. I want—need—to write, and I prefer writing here to writing in a private journal. I've kept a journal since I was eleven. Five years ago my journals were damaged in a flood, and as I flipped through their water stained pages I felt I needed to stop. It is easy to be lazy, repetitive and pathetic in a private journal. Writing online pushes me to avoid complaining, to find a solution to a problem, or make sense of chaotic lived experience. That is to say, I write here for myself. I know there are a select few people who do read my blog, and I am pleased with a little readership. I am not writing for a general audience, even if the site is available to anybody (or any bot) with an internet connection. Thankfully, I am not popular and so can pretty much write as I please.
Writing connects me to myself, and it also connects me to others in the same way I connected to the Munro book at the sea shore bookstore. The part of me that began writing journals at eleven was borne of reading. Books were my childhood friends. Authors and titles I read in the years before I went to high school—most of which I haven't seen in over thirty years—appear without effort:
These books, and many others, provided me with a way to make the world sane. They gave me templates for feelings and experiences I had not yet had. They directed me to what was important: honesty, friendship, laughter, curiosity, loyalty, endurance, love. They reassured and inspired me. And it follows that my writing does some of this same work now. I remind myself of the point, publicly.Elizabeth George Spear's The Witch of Blackbird Pond, The Bronze Bow, The Sign of the Beaver; Marguerite De Angeli's Thee Hannah, The Door in the Wall; Elizabeth Enright's Four-Story Mistake, Return to Gone Away; L. M. Montgomery's Emily of New Moon, Anne of Green Gables; E. B White's Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, The Trumpeter Swans; A. A. Milne's The World of Pooh; Daniel Pinkwater's Lizard Music, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death; C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia; Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
Photo credit: Azrasta, Flickr