I’ve found myself thinking a lot this week. thinking about the purpose of all this. Why we write. Why we share. Why we put personal things out into the big wide world of the internet. Why we share so much of ourselves and our lives and our hearts with people we’ve never even met or distant friends who we have on our Facebook friends list but wouldn’t recognise in the street. I’ve been pondering this kind of life-writing, the power of sharing life, the “art” of blogging. Before I began my first blog about five years ago I was a writer of a different kind. I was a fiction writer. I used to write plays and films and short stories. I used to write a lot of poetry. I used to write my heart and my feelings and my angst through the guise of characters that were often very close to my own experience, and sometimes far from it.
I used words to write what I didn’t yet have the courage to say in my own voice.
I used words to mask opinions I was still too scared to own.
Once I wrote a novel. It was a work in progress. It was beautiful in parts and childish in others. It needed a lot of work. I was more than 45,000 words in when I lost both copies of the digital manuscript. It’s gone now. All but around 10,000 words of a very preliminary draft. So many words lost into space. So many pieces of my own heart written into characters. so many stories I had heard and coveted. so many tangled thoughts written into stories that filled a large document. I was proud of it and although I received a scathing email once from someone I cared about who basically told me it was total crap… I was still proud of it. I shelved it when I fell pregnant. My mind and heart suddenly all consumed by a different obsession… but I always intended to return to it, once my heart had mended and my courage had returned. But before I could, it was lost. One copy was stolen and the other was destroyed by one of those lovely internet viruses. Both in the space of a week. so many hours of creativity. So many carefully crafted sentences. So many ideas. So many feelings. All gone.
I often wonder if I have it in me to ever write fiction again. I don’t write it at all any more. I find I don’t have the time or the inclination. I suppose if I had the inclination I would probably find the time. Maybe it’s because I no longer care so much what people think of me. Maybe it’s because now I am comfortable enough in my own skin and my own thoughts to use my own voice for my opinions… maybe it’s because I don’t have any more stories in me. If I had the next big story in me perhaps I would shut down this blog and focus my energy on penning that novel that I know lives inside me somewhere. But I don’t.
Not right now anyway.
I often think about writing. I wonder why I do it. What the purpose of it all is. I used to wish had it in me to write a journal… You know the ones. the journals that span over many years. Written in beautifully handwritten script and perfectly bound. I’m one of those people that has started a thousand journals, but never been able to maintain them. I’m one of those people that loses them or dog ears them or rips out ideas and scribbles in the corners and has a thousand different handwriting styles that it looks like a thousand different people have scribbled their disjointed ideas all over the blue lined pages… I reinvented myself so often in my teens and early twenties that old journals always felt like they were no longer me. So I destroyed them or put them away or forgot to write in them and quickly they became strange portraits of old versions of myself that existed in a fleeting moment.
I once wrote a series of short stories that were given great critical acclaim at the university I was then studying. i was encouraged to submit them to creative writing journals. I did once. The journals weren’t happy with my formatting… I was turned down once and I didn’t have the strength of character to keep trying. to find the right fit. So I let them go.
Under the desk in my new home I have a plastic container that is filled with every hard copy of writing that i have ever done. it has old essays and creative writing journals from my studies. It has notebooks from when I used to read a lot and found myself thoroughly inspired by the angst and the joy and the influence of substances. from past lives. they have been read and reused and reinvented so many times it’s like an incomplete history of my life. So many things are missing. So many things lost. So many things destroyed.
I think about this blog often and wonder what the future holds for it. I wonder how long I will feel comfortable sharing so much of Bo’s life. it’s a tricky tightrope to balance on, sharing personal stories and life with the world. It’s something I’m forever looking at and I am constantly reassessing my decisions. Most of you probably don’t know that Bo’s given name isn’t Bo (it’s her middle name). I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned that. There are many things about us that I hold sacred and close to my chest. Things that I don’t share here. We all find our own balance when it comes to privacy. We all make our choices. I think as long as you are happy to stand by your choices then it truly doesn’t matter what they are.
I started truly writing in my late teens. I started writing as a means to find a way out of pain. Later I wrote as a way to express love. At another stage in my life I wrote for money. Now I write with the hope that it will change something in the world… however small. With the hope that it will change something in myself or that it will inspire someone else to change something within themselves for the better. I write to grow. To grow not only myself but the world around me, if only in the smallest of ways… because I don’t think my life would feel full if I wasn’t growing.
I know lots of you are writers. Either public bloggy writers or private at home in a journal writers (or both).
So tell me (and each other)… Why do you write?