I know I said a couple weeks ago that I would be posting about cartoons on Mondays during November, but my heart’s not there today. Sorry, everyone who was looking forward to hearing me talk about the Bubble Guppies. Please accept this GIF of Wednesday Addams dancing as a token of my contrition.
Let’s talk about writing instead. Because writing is what makes me come back.
Why do any of us write? What keeps us at our keyboards, pounding out our words?
Those, my friends, are two very loaded questions.
We all have our own special cocktails of motivations and styles and messages that we are trying to express. Even if I create something that’s hackneyed and trite – which I tend to do when I read a really good book; imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all – it still reflects my interest in a particular idea or image. It’s something I identified as Good and wanted to make my own by, well, copying it.
Since I recommitted to blogging at the beginning of the month, I’ve been asking myself pretty often why exactly it is that I write. The night that I decided to do NaEmPoMo (my own special take on NaBloPoMo), I don’t think that I was motivated by anything other than a faint memory of what I used to enjoy about blogging. I knew in my brain that writing from my own voice is good, but my heart had forgotten the actual virtues of tucking myself into my words and letting my mind wander. And that makes me kind of sad, really. How often we find ourselves loving something so entirely one moment, only to become completely unacquainted with that feeling of ecstasy as time passes. Our minds are so quick to forget the things that are good for it.
But the point is that I recommitted. I’m glad that I did, if for no other reason than I’m starting to understand what it is that brings me back to words.
I used to be obsessed with the idea of connection, and I was convinced that connection was at the root of pretty much every kind of expression under the sun. We write so other people will read. We write so that the world becomes smaller and more manageable. We write to create a web of words that might tie us all together. And while I’m still convinced that writing (and art in general) serves as a solid testament to our social, relationshipial (thata word?) nature, I don’t think that it tells the full story of why I write. This is because the longer I write, the more I uncover the truth of my motivations. Being read is great; actually, it’s awesome, and I’d be lying if I denied that.
But what keeps me coming back is writing’s therapeutic properties. The sensation of being listened to and lauded for saying something in a way that no one has ever said it before is, for me, really fleeting. I can get drunk off the approval of others, but that feeling is not lasting. I eventually have to take a cold shower. These are all things that I just recently realized about myself. All this time that I thought I was writing to make a connection, I was just trying to win approval for my thoughts, my ideas, the whole Emily package.
I was setting myself up for disaster. Tides turn. One minute, you’re a darling. The next, you’re yesterday’s old news.
You can’t take 15 minutes to the bank.
The dormant kernel of goodness that actually had me coming back to my computer each day to write was the freedom I felt when I was alone with my thoughts. I could tour my headspace and see what I found. Often, the most amazing treasures I uncovered didn’t even make it on the page. They were – inexplicably – outside of words. I found that I liked myself and the words that came out of me even before I pressed “Publish.”
So that’s why I’m coming back. I owe it to myself.
Not to my family.
Not to my daughter.
Not to anyone else.