The upcoming edition of the Patients for a Moment (PFAM) blog carnival is, “This is why I write.” Well, anyone who has looked at my “About” page knows that I started writing as a form of therapy- coming to terms to my illnesses and changing quality of life. It would be easy to say that I write because I’m sick, but of course there’s more to it than that.
I am a hungry reader. Ever since I overcame my dyslexia back in first grade and the symbols on the page started to make sense, I’ve been an avid reader. I read very quickly (as one dear friend often gripes about) and I retain story lines easily (names? not so much). Reading is relaxing and an escape- I love science fiction, fantasy, murder mysteries, historical novels, just about anything. Reading ahead in class got me in some trouble during my school years, and one of the teachers I remember most fondly let me read in the desk as long as I didn’t distract other students and always had the right answer when she called on me (and I did!).
Being a worshipper of the written word, of course I wanted to write some myself. I had several attempts at short stories, but found I really didn’t have the wherewithal to write stories down. I can create them quite easily- but conveying them to someone else has always been a challenge. In high school I had an English teacher who opened the world of poetry to me and I found that a much happier medium- I could convey feelings in a compact format and during college had several poems published and did some readings. I was a prolific poet and reveled in it. Graduate school managed to squelch any writing for myself, however. By the time I left the program I needed a break from writing and only rarely venture back.
Well, until this blog of course.
I always liked the ideal of keeping a journal. My memory is terrible and always has been. I spent eight summers as a camp counselor and loved it immensely, but again- keeping track of names or the order that things happened? I feel sad that it’s so hard for me to hold onto that sort of information when others seem able to dredge it up without effort. But I couldn’t manage to keep a diary- I’d start and stop and when reading back it was hard to follow (along with dyslexia, my handwriting is atrocious).
Some time in grad school I stumbled across LiveJournal (LJ). My writing is awful, but I can type! And I could communicate with friends who were far away- keep up with their daily lives. LJ was a boon to me. I still refer back to it when I’m trying to remember when things occurred. But more than that it got me in the habit of writing regularly again, even if my only audience was myself. It helped me feel connected and coherent. And, eventually, it helped my doctor identify the beginnings of my illness and diagnose me.
Something happened, however. I had slowly been withdrawing from online journalling for a while. There was a lot going on in my life and I needed to sort it out. I was very sick and overwhelmed and didn’t want to worry friends or family members while I tried to figure out what was going on. I had little energy or focus, and it just wasn’t that important to me to make the effort (which should have been a sign to myself of how “off” I really was).
Which brings me back to this blog. I write because I love to write. I write because I need to write. I need this for myself. One of the most amazing, stupendous, mind-shattering results of all this is that others not only read my blog, but get something out of it. I can’t tell you how important that is for me. It helps me keep going when the words are hard to write, when I’m worn out and run down and just don’t know what to do with myself. I need to write things out so I can get some sort of handle on them, and my loved ones need to read the words that are often hard for me to say. It’s easy to say “I’m fine” when I’m not, especially when I don’t know how to say what I really am. I write for me, and, more and more, also for you.