Why I write
“I’m so glad you’re writing again.” It’s a statement I’ve heard countless times since getting this (my third) blog up and running. “I am, too,” is always my sincere response; however, these conversations always hit me gently in the gut because they remind me people are actually reading my thoughts. People I don’t know and – Oh, Lord – people I do know! Gulp. As I watch the numbers climb on my stats page, this becomes especially poignant as I have several drafts started that are deeply personal. Some may ask why I would feel the the need to share such things. The answer is it’s a calling.
People who know me are glad I’m writing because they know it’s good for my soul. And I know it’s good for my mind as well. As I wrote on the “Who am I & How did I get here?” page, I’ve always been a contemplative person. And I’ve always loved writing, even as a child. Writing gives me the opportunity to tie my left brain together with my right by employing my kick-ass grammar skills while weaving a colorful fabric from the tidbits of my life. And although I love the catharsis that occurs when I write, the absolute best part of both journalism and blogging is that very moment of submitting my work. Whether it’s sending off a fact piece to the newsroom or clicking “publish” on a very personal blog entry, there is a massive element of vulnerability in knowing you just exposed something that is very difficult if not impossible to fully retrieve. (And there you have it – a buried lead, folks.)
As much as I clearly benefit from the catharsis, I need to feel this vulnerability. I need to feel exposed and accessible because it helps me grow and connect with others. There is relief and comfort in staying inside my safety bubble, but if I never allow myself to feel vulnerable, never step out of my comfort zone, I am not experiencing all of life. Breaking down barriers by organizing thought-provoking sentences in a way that’s easily received is my artistic mission here. I love dialogue and want to stimulate thoughts in others. This must be why I have such a wide window of disclosure. It’s kind of masochistic, right?
Don’t get me wrong, I believe both private and public expression serve a distinct purpose and both are beneficial. But keeping a journal or a private sketch book is very different than putting your work out for others to view, evaluate, and criticize. And that is the call I’m answering. Realizing the possibility of even just one person reading one of my posts or viewing my artwork adds the element of vulnerability that I don’t experience by keeping it private. (I feel obligated now to share my recent sketches to prove my point even though I would be completely embarrassed to do so. I posted them in the comfort of my security-protected social media networks for this very reason a few months ago, but it’s entirely different in a completely open arena… They are not fantastic, but I wanted to prove to others that you can be expressive without being highly skilled. Maybe I will at the end.)
It’s counterintuitive, but expressing yourself no matter the level of creativity, ingenuity, or skill level, whether it be through music, dance, fine arts, acting, cooking, or even your own sense of style requires a degree of confidence. But it’s not about having confidence in your abilities as a writer, singer/musician, painter… It’s about having the confidence to expose yourself to an audience. (Hmmm… feel free to read that both figuratively and literally. My mind went to nude models for a drawing class and the “naked guy” roaming my city. They are confident in their own skin.) Having the confidence to say to the others, “I am going to share something with you knowing full well it may not meet your standards or that you might disagree. I’m making myself accessible to you in the hope that you will be inspired, entertained, and/or think.”
After very easily writing the “Child Development 101” post (a.k.a., the “Assholes” post), I felt overwhelmingly conflicted and hesitated a day or so before posting it. There was ONE person I was concerned about hurting with it because of the way she views my kiddos (i.e., saints). The experience was eye-opening and may have actually been the catalyst for this post without me realizing it. There was freedom on one hand because I honestly couldn’t care less what anyone else thought of the post. It was liberating! But my love for her and knowing it might genuinely upset her was a big concern. So I mulled it over for a day before ultimately posting it. Then I warned her immediately explaining that she might be offended but that I owed it to myself and my readers to be completely honest and not hold back. I thought her response was absolutely perfect and all was good. In the end, the feedback on that post from other parents was that of laughter and relief knowing that someone else identified (and put into words) how they were feeling.
So ironically, this post about why I write is probably one of my most rambling, boring posts. But I’m committed to my work so here I go. I’m hitting the “Publish” button.
And reluctantly including these on principle…
I post a variety of content (recipes, photos, music, etc.) at nelbell.com. I'd love for you to drop by!