10.18.2007

Writing about writing

From Monday's New York Times: "Politeness and Authority at a Hilltop College in Minnesota"

Whenever I write and hit "publish post" on an intensely personal post, as I did yesterday, I question the wisdom of what I do here. It makes me want to run away and hide, a little bit, sometimes. It sort of makes me feel naked, even though I sit here, covered collar-bone to toe.

I think that this was the first thing I posted that made me feel that way. This and this and this and this and this also made me feel that way, more or less. These are also, not coincidentally, among my favorite posts, whether people respond favorably or not. But, like the young women in the article, sometimes I wonder, "Who will love [me] if [I'm] like that?" and "Who am I to write about all of my secret worries, fears, and problems on the Internet?" and "Who cares?" and "Will someone I want to date read this and run 1000 miles away?" And then there are all the things that I really want to write about, but don't, because of those questions. Things that I know would make posts as good as these or better, things that I know people would relate to, but things that touch such an inner part of me that I almost never write or speak of them at all.

At what point am I going to realize that anyone who dates me seriously is going to find out about all of this stuff, and if that isn't part of he loves about me, he isn't for me, anyway? At what point am I going to accept that writing about what matters to me--to the inside of me--is what makes me happier than almost anything else in the world, and that what other people think of me should pale in comparison to that which makes me happier than almost anything else in the world? ("Almost" because, gosh darn it, it's hard to top a hug from a three-year-old--or anyone--or really fine chocolate, or an interesting sugya in Gemara.)

I love to write. I don't ever remember not loving to write, since I first became adept enough to fill notebooks up on my own when I was seven. Somehow, writing makes me feel more me. I read someone something I had written in my (private) journal the other day, because it was something I had to express, and I knew, with full certainty, that there was no way it would come out of my mouth better than it had come out on paper, as a first draft, while riding the subway to work in the morning.

I don't know why words and thoughts and feelings come out differently, and so much better, on paper than in speech. Maybe it's because I've had much more practice writing than speaking, in many ways. I mean, I've had a journal since I was nine, and done a lot of other writing as well (both for school and pleasure), and so much of our talking life is taken up by the mundane details of work and eating and "What shall we do?" and "Is the washing machine fixed?" and not the details of what makes us keep going and doing this stuff, day after day after day, and what stops us in our tracks on some days.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Keep writing. It is excellent, reflective, and shows many of your wonderful values and traits.

- Stuart

Sarah said...

I thought that was articulated really well. I share very similar fears. I think thats why I try to couch alot of things I say in academic jargon (although the result is thats the way Im starting to think too-which is scary). But even though its much easier said than done, I really don't think you need to worry. In the world of personal blogs you are probably on the more reserved (as well as well-written and thoughtful) end of the spectrum. And I think often even people who are uncomfortable with public shows of inner emotion can recognize and respect quality writing. That's my biggest fear, bigger than baring all. Baring all in a way that doesn't even do a good or faithful job. If that isn't your concern than you should definitely definitely keep writing.