Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Writer Who Couldn't Write

I ask myself why I’ve posted so few entries to this blog. I claim to be a writer, so what gives?

Part of the issue is that I write for a living. In any given day, I write letters, memos, e-mails, speeches, manuals, reports, etc. I actually write all the time—-just not for myself.

I feel privileged to do the work I do. My clients are people I like and admire, and I make good money. My schedule is largely my own, and I can work in my pajamas if I feel like it. It’s kind of the American dream, I suppose—-minus any benefits, but you can’t have everything.

But the truth is that writing is difficult for me---even the paid stuff. I believe so strongly in the power of words that I am often paralyzed at the thought of putting them on paper. In my world, words still mean something, and the thought that I will choose the wrong ones, or that my writing will be unclear, wordy, or pedantic fills me with dread.

I try to do more editing than writing. Editing to me is fun and easy. I get a charge out of taking someone else’s words and making them better. I’m fortunate in that my clients have learned to trust my judgment, and nobody gets huffy when I fix something. Everyone wins—-I have fun and get paid, and they get what they need to communicate their ideas.

But when it’s time to sit down and write, suddenly I need to rearrange the supply closet or run an errand. Only deadlines can force me to sit down and do it.

There are no deadlines on a blog.

There is also the issue of privacy. I started this blog thinking that I wouldn’t tell a soul about it—-that it would essentially be my online journal, and no one would know who I was.

Of course, the writer’s Achilles heel is the desire for others to read her work. I couldn’t help myself. I told a small handful of folks about the blog, and now I’m afraid to write to it.

So much of what I want to write about now has to do with this strange situation in which I find myself—-I believe it’s known as “middle age.” I feel angry, sad, bitter, and hopeless some days, and—of course—those are the days I want to write about. I want to talk about how disappointing my life feels right now and see if I can figure a way through the malaise.

But it all feels so self-indulgent. Not to mention that the things I might write about my spouse, my kids, etc. would not always be complimentary. How would you feel if you discovered that your spouse was lusting for someone else through her blog? Or that your mother had days on which being single and child-free looked mighty attractive?

I know all bloggers have this dilemma. How much information is TMI? And should you bare your soul to any Tom, Dick, or Harriet who wends his or her way to your blog? (Of course, chances are that if you are reading this blog, you already know who I am. I doubt I get much traffic from any other source.) Prudence suggests not. As so many have discovered, there is no such thing as anonymity anymore.

But what do you do when your mind needs clearing, and corners of your soul need to be swept out? Therapy would seem the obvious solution—-but it isn’t feasible right now. If I were Catholic, I would go to confession—-but I’m not sure that would help a lot either. I’d end up confessing the same damned things over and over again.

This is really depressing.

On the plus side, I finally wrote a blog entry.