Tuesday, April 28, 2009

thoughts and the internet

Back in the day, I used to keep a journal. A real live journal, I mean, where I took a pen (especially in my early teenage years, it was very likely a different colored pen every week) and used the muscles in my hand to drag it over the page to form letters, sentences, paragraphs. And I kept up with my journal fairly regularly, with the normal spurts and droughts, until about when I graduated from college, or maybe a little after.

Dating James wasn't the cause of my journal-writing decline, per se, but about the time we started dating--of course, also about the time I started grad school--the amount I wrote dropped off dramatically. And then when we bought our house and moved in together, my writing all but stopped. It always seems so rude to be busily writing away in one's private journal when one's lover is waiting on the other side of the bed. I mean, it's not really like that, but it always seemed sort of selfish to me, and it's really easy to stop writing anyway: it's an extra thing, easily lost.

The only problem is that I do a lot of my best figuring when I write. I often don't know what I think about something until I see it there on the page (or screen) in front of me, just recently escaped from my pen. Or computer. Writing makes thoughts tangible to me, puts them out there where I have to acknowledge them, where they're real and concrete, not just something sludging around in the grey matter of my brain. So even though it's an overstatement to say that when I stopped writing I stopped thinking, I kind of did. Not that I didn't have thoughts, of course, but without the habit of keeping track of, exploring, connecting, rethinking, that I started with my journal, I'd have thoughts and lose them at the drop of a hat. It's laziness, really. If you stop sustaining thoughts for at least as long as it takes you to write about them (in my case, anyway. I'm sure for as long as it takes you to talk about them, for others), you lose the skill. And if you stop recognizing your thoughts as important enough to write about (or, again, talk about, if that's what floats your boat), it's easy to stop valuing having them, if that makes sense.

So I've been writing again, in my real journal, with a real pen and paper, in a place that's not the internet, where I don't feel the pressure of presenting myself coherently to an audience, however small. Not that I don't like writing here, but I feel pompous blogging as much as I want to write for myself. No one needs to hear my thoughts that much, and no one needs to see me figure things out all the time:) (Coincidentally, I also got rid of my facebook account, in another non-internet move, but that's a whole other story.) So there you go. Rest assured that while I'm not posting here, as has been the case for the last month or so, I'm getting better and better on my own:)

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