Writing is an intimate act. Like sex it can be a great deal of work for sometimes little reward, or it can flow and build to a flood that would make both Noah and John Holmes proud.
In my writing I attempt to learn more about myself while revealing it to others; sort of thinking out loud and publishing it on the internet. Some days I am successful beyond my wildest expectations and there are essays a wrote years ago that I will go back and read and think, “Damn, Bledsoe (I’ve decided to go by one name, like Bono or Sting), that was pretty good.” Others I will read and think, “Seriously. You need to start drinking a better brand of bourbon.”
At its best, writing should be comfortable, like an old denim shirt frayed around the collar and cuffs. I have shirts like that, which I refuse to get rid of. I still wear them. Even in public. I had a homeless person try to give *me* money once. He was like, “dude, you obviously need this more than I do.”
Good writing of the type to which I aspire should draw you in and elicit an emotional response, involuntary, but comforting. I’m not going to change the world with my little essays, but in writing them I change myself and that’s a start.
Maybe the reader will laugh out loud and wake up their spouse. I’m ok with an angry husband under those circumstances. Maybe the reader will think anew about a matter and begin to ponder. Either way, if someone responds in some way then I am content.
When one has to form thoughts and commit them to a screen they must be sufficiently coherent to at least fit within the confines of some sort of reason. That’s how writing changes the writer. Thoughts left in the brain- at least my thoughts- are rarely organized. They look like my daughters’ playroom when they were small. My brain is full of naked Barbies, strewn about with various articles of clothing in piles on the floor. One of my daughters, whose initials are Courtney, used to join them in their nakedidity. I figured she would either grow out of it or get really good at it and make a lot of money. (For the record, she grew out of it.)
Unorganized thoughts must queue up to exit my mind and make it to my hands to be typed onto a page. Sometimes they come out and collide into one another, occasionally yielding inter-word road rage. That’s where f bombs come from. They are debris left over from a word wreck, like bits of windshield in an intersection.
Writing is not always pretty, but the act of producing the finished product, the journey, is what changes me. In ruminating on matters large and small I am forced to confront sacred cows and sometimes slaughter them. That’s as it should be. There is no value in merely repeating the same mantras while not considering their consequence. It should be like travel in the mind where you experience new thoughts and opportunities to see your world differently.
In that sense, writing is both arrogant, assuming one would want to read it, and humble, approaching the blank screen with a mindset that allows for a wandering across hill and hollow perhaps to find a small gemstone in an unexpected place.
Life is like that in general. Or should be. Travel should change us. Our experiences should change us. Our preconceived notions should be held up to scrutiny and discarded if found wanting. I believe that’s called growth.