Writing to Write — or to Publish?

(And I’m back. In the past 2 1/2 months I’ve been super-busy with my editing and tutoring business, and got a bit sidelined from this project. If you aren’t familiar with it, I’ve been going through Anne LaMott’s wonderful book, Bird by Bird, and recording some of my thoughts about what she’s written — about writing!).

Ms Lamott writes: “There is a door we all want to walk through, and writing can help you find it and open it. Writing can give you what having a baby can give you: it can get you to start paying attention, can help you soften, can wake you up. But publishing won’t do any of those things; you’ll never get in that way.”

Okay, so I really don’t have this huge urge to “publish” as in “publish a book” or even “publish magazine articles” — though I’ve done a couple of the latter in the past couple months, and have published in magazines, newspapers, anthologies, newsletters, blogs, and more in the past, and I’ve edited many books, quite a number of which have gone on to be self-published or traditionally published.

I do like blogging things that matter to me, and I love to post links on Facebook to articles that I find really interesting — and even a few of the posts I’ve written, or thoughts I’m having at the moment that I really want to talk about, hash out; things that seem really important to me and that maybe someone else would be willing to take a moment to think about, too, and even respond and discuss and help me think more clearly about it and open my mind and see other perspectives, too.

Sometimes people have gotten into a huge flap about something I’ve posted or said, and totally disagree with me, and respond with a huge diatribe or whatever. At first, maybe I get really bad tummy pains and I don’t know how they could think that way or say those things, but then after I sleep on it a bit I often am able to think about it more calmly and even see from their perspective,even if I still don’t agree with it. Then I try hard to respond calmly and sanely, picking out bits of their rant that I think have some merit and focusing on those, in order to show them that I do regard their thoughts with some degree of appreciation that they’ve responded. I also try to explain my viewpoints in a way that might connect in some way to their thoughts so we can carry on and have a thoughtful conversation.

Wow! I may have just have a bit of an epiphany! I think I’m a letter-writer, a conversationalist, more than an “author.” Maybe, for me at least, writing isn’t for “entertaining” people or for “giving insights” or for “instruction” or any of those things, though I do each of those from time to time — or for being able to say I’ve been “published”!

Maybe it’s my way of building relationships with other people to a degree where we feel free to share our thoughts and insights, and in a sense, work together to seek out a bit of “truth” in what often feels to me like a very confusing and sad, hard to understand world. Maybe I am, after all, a blogger and journal writer more than an “author.” More of a philosopher or thinker than a story-teller — well, much of my writing is full of stories, but they are more “creative non-fiction” than fiction writing.