Blogging, Journaling, and Reading

Well, that worked! Here’s why.

I dislike the act of writing. It doesn’t feel good. After I’ve been at it a while I feel like I’m swallowing myself. You know the way the water spins around and around before it goes down the drain, usually with that schlurping, sucky sound at the last? That’s what I get to feeling like inside while I’m putting the words together on the page (or screen). The more I write, the further back into myself I go. It’s isolating. And the truth is that I have the fear I might not be able to find my way back out to the world and the air and the light again. The isolation is more than I can bear. It makes writing a book hard.

It’s also why journaling is not something that works for me, even though I admire the journals others manage to keep.

Blogging, however, has promise. Yes, I have to spend time putting the words together. But while I’m doing it I know that almost immediately–’immediately’ relative to writing that is–the words will be out in the world. Out there beyond my control and available for you to do with as you will. That feels good!

It feels good to know I have your company. It helps the isolation.

Now, along with the act of writing, I also dislike reading. It’s more than the fact that I spend my days proofreading reference works, macroeconomic reports, and textbooks. Like writing, the act of reading doesn’t feel good to me. I feel invaded, intruded upon, and manipulated. I don’t like the sense of the words going into me.

Proofreading is different. When I proofread, I’m telling the words what to do. I’m standing outside, detached, giving them orders: “Rebreak yourself!” “Align left!” “You. Switch places with that guy behind you!” “Hey! Agree with your verb!” “Pronoun. Find somebody to connect to or else . . .!” It’s a constant battle. And I confess that it feeds my sense of superiority. Superiority over a bunch of black marks on a page. Internal . . . external . . . writing . . . reading . . . journaling versus blogging.

Where did such a vexed relationship to the written word come from?

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I Begin

Some time ago, at the prompting of a friend, I began writing a narrative account of the strange things that have happened in my life–curious coincidences, intuitions that mattered, even instances of what could be called spectral visions. As I begin this blog, I’ve got an outline, a conclusion, a first chapter with part of a second, and a circle of  friends (veteran writers among them) urging me on.

The book is called Choosing Miracles: A Memoir of Voices, Visions, and Angels. 

That’s what I’ve got.

What I don’t have in place is my own internalized identity as a writer. And I can never seem to get, find, or create the time, space, and energy to write given my work as a full-time freelance proofreader. (These, I’m sure, are related.)

Yes, of course I should make my own work my priority and turn to the moneymaking jobs after the day’s writing is done. Yes, of course I should write every day, no matter what. It doesn’t happen. My proofreader self crowds out the writer in me every time. I’ve got to get to that job on the desk so I can submit the invoice so I can pay the bills. And by the end of my day looking for typos, bad word breaks, bad base alignments, and inconsistent heads, the last thing I want to do is mess with words–even my own.

So I go to the park and look for birds. I go to the movies. I watch TV. I do things that lift my eyes off the page or out of the computer and I watch colors, shapes, and things that move. It’s wonderful!

This blog is an attempt to deal with the conflict between my work as a proofreader and my work as a writer. (There are other conflicts I’m aware of that are getting in my way, but I’ll talk about them later.) I’m beginning here. I’m creating this place where I can come and go casually, on coffee breaks or when I’m shifting from one proofreading job to another, and jot things down. Who knows what it’ll turn into?

Now it’s time to work on the quarterly macroeconomic forecast for New Jersey.