I’ve been journaling my whole life. I’ve kept a diary as far back as I can remember. I clear my mind by writing. I unravel mysteries the same way. I grow the same way. I learn and retain better through writing. I write when I’m upset, equally so when I’m happy. I heal by writing. It’s how I make sense of life.
Conversely, I enjoy reading well written pieces. I have been known to note names of excellent journalists and notable columnists on my iPad notebook so I never miss a column they write or any of their works -such an experience is like drinking fine wine. I have great respect for writers that take the time to go through drafts after draft to tell a story with both skill and intrigue.
I still remember Mr. Grey handing me his November 2009 Men’s Health magazine and the piece I read it in titled ‘Dead Man Driving’. The writers were telling a story of someone that had perished in a road accident. They told the story of his family too. They also told a story about road carnage, throwing in a lot of statistics. And they managed to include a lot of information about the mechanics and logistics of driving without losing our attention. Somehow, they had managed to weave in all these different threads to tell one whole story and paint one holistic picture. This is the first instance I became aware that there are levels of writing -theirs remain the best I have seen so far.
Time and time again I have been told I write well, by which I mean simple emails back and forth between friends keeping in touch. It’s such affirming feedback. I hope I do, and I hope I keep improving. Once, when speaking about possible future careers to a good friend, Patricia, on the phone, I blurted out that I wanted to be an author. Perplexed, I had no explanation of where the thought had come from; it certainly hadn’t been at the forefront of my mind.
Good writing is not a given; I have read some very uninspiring pieces. Inversely, I have written some embarrassingly uninspiring pieces that were clearly filler posts. On occasion, I have consoled myself that writing doesn’t have to be excellent at all times. Or does it? As a blogger with a healthy blog traffic, I have the pleasure and privilege of sharing my work with you all, an opportunity of which the magnitude is not lost on me. Often I ask myself ‘is just writing enough?’ More accurately, writing only when I feel like it -is that enough? I’m mostly glad with what I put out there, but there is no doubt I could do better.
As writers, we first find, then sharpen our voices as we write. Participating in Blogtober this year is the best decision I have made so far as concerns blogging. My website traffic increased by seven-fold, but more than that, I started to define my voice. Gradually, a theme of the things I care about is beginning to emerge. Among a few others, the topic of ‘reality’ is one that clearly sets me alight.
In her Netflix special ‘Joan Didion -The Centre Will Not Hold’, Mrs. Didion says that she writes to clear her mind, to figure out her thoughts, and it struck me that I write for the same reasons. I write to clear my head. I write to offload any excess thoughts I might be carrying around that might cause me avoidable anxiety. Not that I currently could be anything like her, but still I’m glad to know I’m in good company. Of that ‘Dead Man Driving’ piece in the Men’s Health magazine, I looked up the authors to see what had become of them and was pleased to find they had won a prestigious writers award for that article. Well-deserved, is all I could think. For all of us that feel so inclined, let’s keep writing. Cheers, Helena ღ