For years, I’ve tried to keep a daily journal or diary. As a child, these were brightly colored notebooks, or once a blank book with what I thought was the most beautiful unicorn in the world on the front. I’d write something for about a week and then the book would get lost on my shelf, the rest of the pages destined to remain blank.
As an English major in college, I found this failing in myself even more glaring. Several of my professors kept what they called “commonplace books”, where they would jot down insights they had when reading various books or papers, on current events, or on their lives. These often prompted larger, more brilliant projects – published papers, a thesis, novels. Most fellow English majors I knew kept diaries as well. In nearly every class, studying various authors, someone would mention the particular authors’ writing outside of published works.
I wrote and abandoned various journals and diaries throughout high school and college. I own several, including a gorgeous, far too expensive leather-bound one that has about ten pages written in it. To this day, one of the biggest draws when I walk into a bookstore is the section with all the blank books. I love looking at them, picking out the most beautiful one, thinking, surely this time I can keep it up.
When I started blogging, I also started another attempt at journaling. Like many of the others, it went by the wayside quickly. However, I managed to keep blogging semi-regularly. This was a curiosity to me. Why could I blog but not write privately for myself?
After examining the question for some time, I finally had an insight. I love narrative. I’ve spent years studying novels that, by nature, have a defined beginning, plot, and ending. There is an arc, a sense of moving forward. Generally, published novels go through an editing process, removing the extraneous bits, the line of dialogue that doesn’t quite fit, the cool piece of character exposition that is well written but creates loose ends. Even memoirs, based on real lives, are streamlined and edited for content. The pieces that don’t fit? They don’t make it into the final book.
Real life, for better or worse, isn’t like that. There are lots and lots of rabbit-trails in my life, loose ends that will never tie up. Usually there are several plots unfolding all at once, relating to work or my marriage or a research project or religion/faith/church that may tangentially tie in to the other parts, but may also have very little relation to the others except that they’re all happening to me.
My blogging here is related to one specific narrative: infertility. I weave in the other strands as they relate to infertility, but by and large, if it’s not somewhat infertility related, I don’t write about it in this context. This streamlines things a bit and gives my writing some focus.
Through blogging I also acquire a wonderful superpower that I only wish I had for real life: the afore mentioned editing. Don’t get me wrong: I work hard to make sure my writing here reflects my situation and emotions accurately. However, in a blog post, I can wind up condensing three weeks of worry, waiting, and anxiety to a few paragraphs, which makes it much more manageable. I may hold off on sharing something I’m particularly ambivalent about until I’ve made sense of it in my own mind. I can start writing, decide I really dislike this sentence or that thought. I can take out bits that don’t line up or turn out to be irrelevant to the particular moment or event I’m writing about. I can delete entire posts or shove them somewhere in my drafts folder never to see the light of day again. There are sometimes details I simply can’t post on the internet in a public forum for various reasons that get edited out.
I can also wait to start writing posts or hold off actually putting them up until I have some sort of idea of what the meaning in the situation might look like. I usually start writing when I’ve noticed a pattern or a concept or a story starting to emerge from the disparate bits and pieces that make up daily life.
This, I think, often makes it easier for me to blog.
Read Part 2 Here