Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Why We Write

I got a phone call last week from a sweet woman at church. She said "I heard that you love to write in your journal and that you keep it on the Internet. Will you come and speak to the women next week about journals and technology?" Well, that's an offer that's pretty hard to resist -- talking about two things I love, so of course I said "SURE!" When I hung up the phone my head started spinning -- what to say..... what to say. There are so many avenues on which to venture. But, the first thing that came to my mind was this:

Why We Write

I think people write for many different reasons. My writing began with loss. My dad died when I was 12. It was difficult -- simultaneously becoming a teenager and losing a parent. Those were hard years. I can tell you that the thing I needed most were my father's words. I longed to know that he loved me, how he felt about getting sick, what he was like at my age. But I didn't have the opportunity to know any of it -- he didn't leave anything behind. When you are 12 you don't think about asking a dying parent for letters, or poignant words of wisdom. My dad was 30 when he died -- young. I'm sure he had no idea that his children would have a yearning to know his thoughts.

I'm 50 now, and you know.... that longing has never left. If anything, it increased as I continued to lose the people I love. My grandparents, my mother, uncles and aunts. Not one of them left behind words -- which I still long to read. I hounded them -- I did. I interviewed a few of them, but it's not the same as reading their personal thoughts penned by their own hand. This is what inspired me to write -- the need to know. So, since the age of 12, I have sporadically kept a journal and I keep it so that my children will know important things.

When I write, I write with purpose. I want my children, and their children to know about my journey. Right now, they roll their eyes when they see me posting away at my computer. But some day, I know that they will be grateful that I did. I want them to know what I was like when I was young. I want them to remember that I'm not perfect, that I have an aching love for my family, I have friends, I laugh, create, watch television, make treats, and spend a lot of time shuttling kids around in the car (hence all the posts about driving). And most of all, I want them to know that I have faith in God, and in his Son, and that faith is the reason that I am able to press on .... even when life is hard. I keep a separate blog that deals with the spiritual things in my life. I call it "The Small Plates." The Small Plates are personal and sacred so I don't publish them on the Internet. They testify of the things that matter most to me.

Speaking of the Internet, it has made writing delightful. I feel like I'm writing to a person which makes it easier to tell a story. I can share my words with the world, or I can hide them away for the future. I can include pictures and invite people to comment .... or not. And the greatest thing of all .... I can publish my blog at the end of the year and give each of my children copy. What miracles.

The one thing I didn't expect when I started keeping a journal online is the wonderful byproduct -- the world that opened up outside of my Temecula realm. Through comments shared on my blog, and through reading the blogs of others, I have learned that I am not alone. These words from around the globe are not perfect -- but, they are real. There are incredible women out there who are doing so much good through writing -- sharing their troubles, their triumphs, their laughter and their hope. I am so grateful to all of them (including you.) Their words inspire me to be a little better -- and I need that .... every single day.

I know that there are many out there who think they have nothing to say, or that they can't keep a journal or a blog because they are not good at writing. To you I say ..... WRITE. I know from experience that your posterity will not care if you majored in English, or if you are witty, or if you have perfect grammar -- they will treasure your imperfect words. So get to it ... and do it now. Stay true to your own voice. What you have to say is important and will help those around you. Here's how I know:

I am an avid genealogist, and my greatest genealogical discovery was finding a copy of a journal that belonged to one of my ancestors -- Levi Thornton. I learned that was one of the first pioneers in the Utah valley and was part of the Martin Handcart Company Rescue Party. I had no idea that I had pioneer ancestors -- ancestors that converted to Mormonism at the time of Joseph Smith. I'm a convert myself -- so finding his journal meant the world to me. His words were brief, and serious, but nevertheless a treasure. I learned that he wasn't a scholar, his life was hard and he had to start over many times in many different places, but he over came the obstacles and was loved by those who knew him. He reminds me that I can press on .... no matter what comes my way. I am thankful that he took the time to write.

Post Script: If you are interested in downloading your blog into a bound book, check out Blurb.


Nanette said...

A lovely post! Well said. A whole new world opens up when you take the time to write.

Diane said...

FYI, your link to blurb actually takes a person to thought you might want to know =)

crystal b. said...

Oops!!! Thanks for the heads up Diane. I'll fix that right away.

Jenni said...

What an awesome post and a great opportunity for you!

kanishk said...

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