Writing in the open

Ear­li­er this week a friend (and new read­er) accused me of being brave for writ­ing as I do of per­son­al expe­ri­ences that are often less than joy­ful. I thanked her: it was nice to hear, but it is not some­thing I would have thought of on my own. I have shed most of what­ev­er false mod­esty and self-dep­re­ca­tion I was long guilty of; though it goes against my inter­nal Mid­west­ern grain to receive praise, I have learned that it is sil­ly to deny that I can, in fact, write. Rather good­ly, even, when I put my mind to it. But brave­ly? Hmmm.

I put the idea aside, but was forced to come back to it today after read­ing rkma­ma’s post mark­ing her first anniver­sary as a blog­ger. Her words res­onat­ed deeply with me as she reflect­ed on what she is about as a blog­ger, whether she has any­thing worth say­ing, any­thing that has not already been said. 

Putting one’s words out into the world is not a thing to be under­tak­en light­ly. To put one’s life before an unseen pub­lic in writ­ing is anoth­er lev­el beyond that. And yet it is some­thing many are will­ing, or even com­pelled, to do. I have writ­ten before on how impor­tant the sense of audi­ence is for me as a writer of per­son­al non­fic­tion. My pre­vi­ous reflec­tions on this have been large­ly solip­sis­tic. But rkma­ma puts it so much bet­ter when she iden­ti­fies the blogs that mean the most to her as a read­er as “the ones where the author lets me into their lives, into their fam­i­lies, through this win­dow of the com­put­er screen. They let me see how dif­fer­ent and how the same we all are. They are the ones that made me feel less alone…”

That is it, the heart of why she blogs, why I blog, why so many peo­ple have seized upon this rev­o­lu­tion in access to pub­lish­ing. This is a medi­um where we can tell our sto­ries, as brave­ly as we can, and where oth­ers can share in them. We are not in this with the expec­ta­tion of a book deal or a Meryl Streep movie. For many of us it may only be a hand­ful of friends and our mom who even know these words exist. But so very often it is just enough to know that we are not alone in our dai­ly lives, that oth­ers strug­gle on, dar­ing to hope and dream and love as we do. That is the soul of good blogging.

I used to work with rkma­ma, back in the day, when we were young and care­free and could blithe­ly endure retail book­selling. My most vivid mem­o­ry of her is, alas, of a ter­ri­ble day in her life. That sto­ry is not mine to tell, but the storm of her young grief that day shook me to my core, even as a casu­al bystander, and though I have often tried to put words on paper about that moment, I have nev­er been able to do so. That she her­self has been able, through her blog, to repeat­ed­ly address that life-chang­ing event and the ongo­ing impact it has upon her life is, to me, the very def­i­n­i­tion of brave writ­ing. What­ev­er brav­ery my self-cen­tered sto­ries may have, I bow in rev­er­ence before her beau­ti­ful and lyri­cal honesty.

Read rkma­ma’s blog at rkmama.wordpress.com

1 Comment

  1. Dude. I don’t know what to say.

    Well, except for that I total­ly want a Meryl Streep movie but I thought it would have been too tacky to say so I wrote that oth­er stuff.
    Kid­ding! (Most­ly!)

    Your (too) kind words are so appre­ci­at­ed. From one writer to anoth­er, from one blog­ger to anoth­er, from one spouse and par­ent to another…Thank you.

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