My focus this week has been to giving thought to the question over the role of writing as an activity in which we open up ourselves to those who read us. (This meditation came to life after researching Grigori Perelman’s life, reading Notes from Underground, Into the Wild, Sense and Sensibility, In Cold Blood, and the first hundred pages of A Little Life and The Bone Clocks; in coming close to these stories, all of which influenced me in some personal regard, I developed a sense of doubt over my intentions, my human intentions: that I tend to be to too hopeful and idealistic about my ideas, that perhaps I should keep my diary entries private; that I needed to shut up and stick to trying to be a better writer, and produce something of objective value, like a well composed piece of fiction, a worthy research paper, something of the sort, before pressing the ‘publish’ button; but the one line of thinking that was the most worrying, was that perhaps I was quickly becoming the sort of writer I despise; the writer who writes for attention.)
I think everyone who has written for a public, has wondered whether sharing their writing, be it personal or otherwise, is a pompous activity, that it serves no other good than filling up an emotional need for the writer. Another piece of doubt runs like this: only good writers should be allowed to write, and those of us who are inspired to write, amateurs, should keep quiet; that we should know better, than to write to pretend we are writers. We think these things to ourselves, as ghosts within us, haunting us, stopping us from doing what we love doing (much like in every other human activity, which we often stop ourselves from doing; dancing on the dance floor, self-consciously, albeit we look beautiful so doing). Funny thing is, we are seldom told these things by anyone in particular (we have all been criticized, sometimes bullied; but when has this stopped us from doing what we love, when has it kept us from taking a chance?) these doubts come to us, intimately. So, intimately, to me, blog writing about my life, so the thesis ran, was beginning to cross the line between being personal so as to offer something intimate and valuable to an audience, and being personal so as to fill up my need for attention, to fill up an emotional lack in me. I was anxious because this has never been the reason for my writing, at least, at the conscious level.
Then something happened that changed me, and that I would like to share as a piece of evidence as to why opening up to writing personally, can change ourselves in changing others. I had a person have the kindness and open heart to open up to me about her experience with a particular post in this blog, how it struck a chord in her in a positive way; it gave her insight into her own life, and more particularly, she said it gave her a sense of connectedness. (I felt lucky to have had such a beautiful person share this with me, something personal about her; it is sad, but in today’s culture, it is hard for a woman to open up to a man, to take the first step in making a connection, for, so the ignorant and inhuman discourse of gender relations goes, women cannot open up to men or approach men in something personal, emotional, sweet.) Not the reviews, not the academic writing, not the ‘formal’ pieces of writing, but the most personal pieces of writing, have been the ones that have been the most visited, and from which I have received the most comments. My goal has been to be authentic, and I feel I have been the most authentic in these pieces; my goal in these, has been for those who visit the blog, to listen to my nature. I open myself up as a means to connect with others; the way I know how to, is through my writing.
This is what I wanted to say when I first made a draft for this post: the greatest gift for a writer is to have a person take the time to read their writing. And the most precious gift for an introspect, for those of us who are called by some ‘shy’, ‘strange’, ‘awkward’, ‘silent’, etc., is to connect to others by the means that make sense to us, and to have others see the things that exist within us, that we find so hard to share in speech or in the venues of the extrovert, for opening up through the venues of the extrovert, are extremely difficult for us. At least for me. This is, and I will be naked about it, one of the main reasons why I choose to write. So yes, perhaps my original thesis was right, but not so in the manner I had originally articulated it, for it acquires a different color, a different sense, if understood in its proper context.
I know there are many of you like me out there, who understand me, who know how it feels to be mute, to not be able to be heard or understood in the manner of the extrovert, to stumble in our speech because so much is happening in our heads; to feeling misunderstood and to feeling strange for overthinking everything, everything we say and do, everything others say and do, everything within us and outside us; it may be something abstract or something concrete, but there is always something, something pulling us inward. People like me have a fundamentally different way of opening up to others, for the things that exist within us, are best expressed in other ways, not in speech or extroversions, but in our own idiosyncratic ways of connecting to the people we so long to connect with, even when we think we are complete failures at connecting with others in an extrover’s world. We were brought up in an extroverted world, and this can be an incredibly painful experience when growing up; at some point, however, we begin to feel comfortable in our bones, and begin to choose carefully who to allow in. My way of opening myself up, has been through the written letter.
(In Alias Grace, the remarkable show based on Margaret Atwood’s novel by the same name, Grace Marks, the protagonist and a woman in the patriarchal world of the 19th century, charged with murder, and under the analysis of a male therapist whom begins to take a peek into the wonders of womanhood, and more personally, whom begins to fall in love by the figure of Grace’s humanity, as a woman who has suffered enormously, says apropos the subject of this entry: ‘I would never judge a human creature, for feeling lonely’.)
The wonderful thing about blogs, is that you never know who may stumble upon your writing. My heart’s desire is to keep this connection open. Thank you, to whoever is taking the time to read me, it is truly a gift to have you take a walk with me; for an introvert, it is the same thing as being heard. With this in mind, and in thinking long and hard about continuing posting entries in regards to my personal life, my opinions about culture, my opinions in general, I have decided to keep doing it, for it has been a joy to share it, to connect with you.
The Soul selects her own Society —
Then — shuts the Door —
To her divine Majority —
Present no more —
Unmoved — she notes the Chariots — pausing —
At her low Gate —
Unmoved — an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her Mat —
I’ve known her — from an ample nation —
Choose One —
Then — close the Valves of her attention —
Like Stone —
(303), Emily Dickinson