Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Why I Write

"There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein."--Walter Winchell, paraphrased

After very nearly ten years and over thirteen hundred posts, it's getting increasingly difficult to find new things to write about. This is especially true since, due to reader demand, the Breadbin has all but discarded the political part of its mandate. My political posts attract less than half the readers my personal posts do. And while I've often said (and meant) that I'd write this blog even if nobody read it, of course it's nice to know people are reading my thoughts.

If you would know me, simply read my output...starting on May 12, 2004. If you can get through several thousand screens without dying of boredom, you'll know damn near everything there is to know about me as a person. I've held a few things back, and will continue to do so; some of my thoughts are too personal to share, as open as I am. But pretty much anything important is in here somewhere...most of it several times.

Starting next week, and for ten weeks thereafter, I'm going to pick my favourite post from each year I've been writing the Breadbin, republish it  verbatim, and then give some commentary on it. Looking back, there are several posts I can't believe I wrote, and a few I'm ashamed to have written.  There are others I wouldn't change a word of. And there are some I just like to relive.

The other day I asked my Facebook friends to give me an open-ended question and I'd blog about it. (Thus do I refute writer's block.) Most of the responses were silly and/or dirty. One good friend asked me 'what's so appealing about writing/blogging/journaling/diaries?'

Several things, for me, really. One is stress release. I think everyone's got a favourite method of stress release: some people play video games, some people go running, some people stalk and kill innocent strangers, then play paint-by-numbers with the arterial spray. Me, I write.
I also play piano...that's for emotions that are too big for me to process. If I am very angry or very sad, my first refuge is (and pretty much always has been) my piano. That kind of anger or sadness is quite rare in my life over the last several years--I try to keep on as even a keel as I can--but it's nice to have that piano to fall back on.
For the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, I write. Not always about what's bothering me...sometimes I write something explicitly to get my mind off what's bothering me--but often enough, I'll write my pain out for the world to see. Shared misery is lessened. I'll also write my joy (because shared joy is increased)...and if I can get away with it I'll write more joy than misery, because (a) nobody likes a sourpuss and (b) the world needs more joy in it.

I can go back and read my stress/joy release posts whenever I need to, for those recurring stresses we all have to cope with. It's very nice, after a particularly bad day, to easily find written evidence that so far, I have a perfect track record of surviving really bad days.

So stress release, joy release...anything else?

Memory aide. Eva is not a date person. Ask her what year something happened and she'll draw a blank nine times out of ten. Several times over the last decade we've had cause to find out when something happened. Even if I didn't write about it, maybe it happened right around the time I wrote about thus-and-such and there it is, February of '06, how could we ever have forgotten that?

I write to come to terms with myself. I hold some very unorthodox views on life and love, and I'm forever honing them, shaping them...sometimes changing them entirely when they no longer serve. I find it easier to do this honing and shaping and changing if I spill those views out where I can stare at them until either they, or I, squirm.

And yes, I admit it, I write with a view to how my writings will be read, since I know I have an audience (and yet I keep being surprised at just who is in that, for instance, I haven't seen you in, like, ever, and yet here you are peering into my mind. It's flattering and a little spooky sometimes...)

I know I've hit paydirt when I write on autopilot. That happens maybe three times a year and it'd be frightening if it wasn't so damned exhilarating. Words just flow on to the screen seemingly without conscious effort; I never have to stop and think about a sentence is taking me, and at the best of times I don't even have to back up and fix a typo. It all just scrolls out. Those tend to be the posts that garner the most praise, and I want to say hey, don't look at me, something wrote that through me.  Chances are at least half the posts I pick to showcase and discuss over the next ten weeks will have been written that way.

Most of my posts, though, require effort. The ones I hate most require RESEARCH. There's another good reason to abandon the political in favour of the personal...if I'm writing about me, there's no Googling to be done there.

I wish more people blogged, really I do. I want to read about you more than I want to write about me. But most people don't find blogging appealing at all. They start up a blog, go great gangbusters on it for a week or a month or maybe even a few years...and then abandon it in favour of Twitter. (Sometimes I amuse myself and calculate how many tweets the blog I'm writing would have to be. It's safe to say I will never tweet more than occasionally, nor will I use the fourteen-character social media app that is destined to supplant Twitter in the coming years as everything and everybody continues to truncate.)

I write for you, and I thank you so much for reading...but I also write for me.

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