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

One thought on “Writing in the open

  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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