Tuesday, November 29, 2011

This Is Why I Write

Sharon over at Bed, Body & Beyond is hosting the next edition of the patient-centric blog carnival Patients For A Moment asks interested bloggers to examine the reasons they choose to blog.

My first response is that I write because I've always written and always intended to write. Somewhere, there are a bunch of gothic/horror short stories I wrote in my tween and early teen years after discovering H.P. Lovecraft. In junior high, we had to do career reports each year from sixth through eighth grade. When I couldn't find a good estimate for income for a fiction writer, which I was required to include in my career report, I chose journalism to focus on because, well, the statistics were easier to find. I didn't even intend to study journalism; it was just a much easier topic to research for those reports. 

In high school, I was on the student paper in a variety of roles. It was a way to meet people as much as an extracurricular activity. I learned that reporting was a great excuse to satisfy my curiosity on just about any topic, because just about anything could be fodder for a story for the school paper. Seven years after I left my job at The Associated Press on maternity leave, I still use my background in journalism as an excuse to ask personal questions. :-)

I was essentially blogging without a blog starting right after my daughter was born. What started out as an email of a baby photo every day or two to family members developed into a weekly email blast with 50 or 60 recipients, and finally moved to a real blog format for it fairly soon after I started Sick Momma in 2007.

Writing has long been an emotional release valve for me, probably starting with the diary my brother and sister gave me for my ninth birthday. The highlights I thought worth writing about back in third grade including my math homework (which was very exciting! That was the first year I had a hardback textbook instead of a workbook and had real homework!) and complaining about the deep unfairness of not having cookies in the house because my dad was on a diet. :) Yep, I'm sure someday someone's going to want to make a movie based on that diary!

More importantly, writing is the way I process things; it often feels like a keyboard is an extension of my brain. As a reporter, I didn't always know exactly what my story was going to be when I sat down at my computer with my interview notes next to me. The best stories I ever did sort of wrote themselves. (If only they had edited themselves too ...) 

Blogging about my health issues started as a way to track what was going on, both for my personal records as well as keeping my extended family updated on what was happening. I needed it as a way to keep straight the chronology of what happened and what my doctors were doing. I still do some of that, certainly. 

But something funny happened along the way, and blogging became more about community than I'd ever imagined. I get emails sometimes from people thanking me for writing about something that hits home for them. I also get so much support from my readers. 

Why else do I write? I write because I want to be a voice out in the ether of what it's like to be (relatively) healthy and then suddenly, literally overnight, get sick and be forced to change my life. It's something I didn't know was even possible before it happened to me, and since then I've found out how relatively common it actually is.

When I write, I can express all kinds of emotions that I don't talk about otherwise. It allows me to connect with people who live anywhere in the world. It's personal, but I can also separate from it and write with a reporter's dispassion if it's a little too close for comfort. 

Possibly most important of all, writing gives my life a sense of normalcy. I've been writing pretty much as far back as I can remember, and even if I feel like my vocabulary has shrunk thanks to the thick layer of fatigue that has slowed my brain to molasses, it would be so much infinitely worse if I couldn't write at all.
Sharon's deadline for PFAM submissions is Monday, Dec. 5; please go visit her blog and consider offering a post. Her edition will go live on her site on Wednesday, Dec. 7.


Never That Easy said...

The way you describe writing as both a personal endeavor, and something you can separate yourself from is one of the hardest things to explain to people who don't write. Great post

Anonymous said...

"something funny happened along the way, and blogging became more about community than I'd ever imagined."


Aviva said...

Thanks so much for the kind words, you guys! I appreciate them!

Now I just need to get back to blogging ... life is just so complicated sometimes! Hope you guys are doing as well as possible!