The process is the goal. I love that mantra and I do my best to embrace it. Lately though, when it comes to my writing, I’ve lost my focus. I’ve forgotten why I write and who I write for.
Why I write?
Writing down the stories of my life with chronic illness helps me find some sense in the madness that is my life. Writing helps me slog through the clutter and allows me to see a situation from many different perspectives. Writing is also cathartic; it guides me through a jumble of emotions as I search for middle ground between rage and Pollyanna. Hence the name of my blog, Write Down the Middle.
Who I write for?
I write for me. My stories are my thoughts and reflections about moments in my life. And when I am feeling a bit frazzled or melancholy, I can go back and reread a story or two. It’s like giving me my own pep talk. And I can think to myself, “Gee, you really are amazing Kelly Girl! You’ve survived so much, you got this!"
For me, writing is an extremely painstaking process. To quote Ringo Starr, “It don’t come easy.” It may take me a month to write one 600-800 word story. I agonize over every word; I will read what I have written over and over and over. Did I make my point? Could I say this in fewer words but not lose meaning? I write down all my thoughts; the good ones get to become sentences. Then I move them around like puzzle pieces, kind of like those old sliding tile toys that have one open space and you have to keep sliding tiles back and forth until you get them in perfect order. The rub with writing is there is no perfect. There comes a time when you just have to hit save and send!
When I finish writing a story, it can take some time until I have the fortitude to write another. And in that lull, while I am resting and re-energizing, comes a certain peace, a calm that I struggle to explain. It’s almost like I am empty and then life happens and I start to get filled up with ‘stuff’ until I reach a point of such fullness that I just got to let it out.
By sharing my writing, I have been offering friends, family, and strangers little glimpses into my chronically ill life. My intentions were innocent enough, to gain some awareness and understanding of the illnesses I live with every day and maybe offer comfort to others in the chronically ill community. Lately though, I’ve confused the understanding with approval. When a story I’ve written goes ‘live’, I’ve become like a rat in a Skinner’s box, checking my social media accounts looking for the sweet validation that ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ deliver. How many today I wonder; none… really? “But it was such an enlightened, earth shattering story! Why haven’t I gone viral?!”
Earth to Kelly- you do not need anyone’s approval! Calm down and go make a sandwich or something. Thanks, that’s some good advice right there! OK, just being a bit silly. But seriously, I really shouldn’t concern myself with whether anyone likes my stories or even reads them because that’s not on me. Lesson learned, I’m going to do my best to be done with obsessing over what others think and what I think they are thinking. While it will always be special when someone finds meaning in my words, that is the gift, the bonus, and it is not the goal. The process is the goal.