15 April 2017
After something like thirty years of journal writing, I’m trying something different, and it’s not easy:
I’m trying to get more Writing out there for people to read.
This makes it Writing with a capital "W."
This is not to say that its going to be any good.
Nonetheless, it is Writing that people I’ve never met (and may never meet) have the opportunity to read. This makes it far different from most of the writing that I’ve done in my life (much of which is writing with a lower case "w").
A good 95 percent of my writing—possibly more—involved scribbling things in journals, and often not even rereading the things that I wrote. I threw out many of these journals, in fact, and when I moved over to writing on computers, I deleted many files, or lost a lot when I switched to a computer that could no longer read the old files.
Most of these journals involved my perseverating on one thing or another, usually regrets about the past, and anxiety about the future.
I still write journals such as these. It a comfort to me, so much so that I often call this writing “comfort food writing.”
The only trouble is, in my opinion, it isn’t really Writing.
A couple of years ago, I took a Writing class (capital "W") with a teacher who was not the nicest person in the world. She asked what makes someone a Writer.
Well, I said, it’s sort of like what Robert Rodriguez said about being a Filmmaker. Pick up a camera, he said, and shoot something. Okay, you’re a Filmmaker.
She didn’t like that.
Well, she said, if everyone’s a Writer, than no one’s a Writer.
So okay, I’ll give her this much: to just put words down is not Writing with a capital W.
I do, think, however, that it becomes Writing when I write for a stranger.
That’s it. Besides writing for someone else, it has to be someone I don’t know.
I’m not saying this makes me a great Writer, or even a good one.
What it does mean, however, is that it does make me a Writer. I'm getting my Writing out there, where someone I don’t know can read it.
They may not like it. That’s not easy to deal with.
Still, though, it means that I’m doing more than just writing something for no one but myself, or some sort of private thing that’s just for another person. It means, instead, that I’m putting something out there for all time that other people can read and save and hold up as an example of my Writing.
This carries with it the possibility that people may hold it up as an example of how I’m a bad Writer. There is always the possibility, however, that people may hold it up as an example of someone who knows what they’re doing. I’m never going to know, however, unless I put it out there, where total strangers can judge it worthless or worthy.
This is what Writers do.
And it is what you can do as well.
Go to it.