Why We Write

On Writing

Walden Pond Replica of Where Thoreau Wrote

“Everything I do in life, I do out of sheer joy. I drop my fruit like a ripened tree.  What others do with it when I am done, is not my concern.”  Henry Miller

I seem to be getting a lot of mileage out of this quote in recent weeks. It was shared with me a couple of weeks ago by a friend on the other side of the country with whom I toss several hundred-word missives back and forth with. His perspective is always appreciated because a) he’s not a woman and therefore does not think like one and b) he’s a heck of a lot less jaded than many of the friends in my immediate sphere.

It’s a quiet thrill to have a pen pal in life, particularly as an adult. I remember having a pen pal as a teenager, via a relative’s in-laws, and she and I are still friends to this day. (That is, if you count Facebook relations as a friendship.)

It’s interesting to look at a pen pal relationship. Conversation that has to wait for a retort, reply, and perspective in this “on demand” world in which we live is a bit old-fashioned, but welcome nonetheless.

Thinking of the one-sided conversational style of the pen pal relationship is very much similar to piecing apart the blogger/reader relationship. One of my favorite authors, Dominique Browning, posted a piece on her blog recently about her hesitancy to share fully with readers:

“It does seem odd to share this grief with strangers. I stop a few minutes to think about that. Why? And then suddenly I realize–and this understanding has never occurred to me before–that for writers, among whom I have never counted myself, readers are never strangers. Readers of Slow Love Life, or perhaps I should say “commenters”, don’t feel like strangers at all. They are the other side of a conversation that goes on interminably in the head. They are intimates. It helps to write, to share.”

I admit to sometimes grappling with what to write here. I am sure that many writers wonder, “What’s the point?” Or, they have to answer to critics who say that sharing via such a public platform is like writing in your diary and leaving it open on a table for any passerby to read.

I have given this a lot of thought after reading Ms. Browning’s wise words and I keep coming back to the reasoning that was echoing in my head as I read her post. Writers offer glimpses of the thousands of thoughts that churn through our minds so that readers can relate, share their own perspectives, and hopefully, grasp a glimmer of our collective humanity. If not for the bloggers I read years ago in the nascent days of online offerings by “real” people, I doubt my broken hearts would have mended so quickly, nor would I ever have learned to make that killer Guinness chocolate cake. Or, wished I lived in NYC oh so badly. And finally, understood the myriad of kindnesses that make for a good husband.

Closing out 2011, I am warming up my toasts for New Year’s Eve and I offer one here – to the bloggers…

As always, thanks for reading and letting me drop some fruit.



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