A friend asked me the other day why I blog. She had read a recent piece that channeled more darkness than light. So, I gave her my blogging elevator speech.
I told her about initially thinking of blogs as a kind of narcissistic space for drama, where people write things like, “I woke up this morning, and I wanted to die.” At least, that was the most dramatic line I could think of at the time.
I have never been very up on the blogging scene. I recall friends in college having blogs when I barely knew how to navigate around cyber space. Those days, blogs really seemed like gratuitous online journals with lines like the one I quoted above.
“This was not my intention for starting a blog,” I told her.
I shared the nutshell story of the course of events that led to ranger m.
I spoke of the spring semester of my first year in the program, where I learned of the free form writing where you just write in a stream of consciousness, whatever comes to mind. It was meant to be an emergent writing exercise to help us incorporate our own voices into our academic writing, and I had found it incredibly cathartic as I was preparing to move to Alaska from a community in Washington where I had imagined I would live ‘til the end of my days. I told her I had had the desire to continue writing over the summer when classes were not in session so I would stay in practice for the upcoming fall and also to take the advice of faculty and other PhD students from previous cohorts, all of whom encouraged us to keep a journal during our time in the program.
A blog seemed like a perfect venue for all of these intentions.
This was the brief story I shared for the birth of ranger m.
She was so kind. She wanted to make sure that I was okay after reading the darker post.
“You look so happy and well adjusted for someone who has been through some shit,” she said.
“I am happy. Things are a lot better now,” I said. “Besides, everybody has been through shit. I just write about it.”
I was moved by her concern. I don’t really think too much about sending my thoughts out there anymore. Sure, I try to limit references to people by name, but in general I give myself a fair amount of freedom. Then, copy and paste, add title, and click ‘publish.’ It is out there for anyone to read.
I thought about her question later that night and realized I had only told her part of the story. I had told her the origins of the blog but not what it had become and come to mean to me.
I find meaning through writing. It is an emergent process. I may sit down with an idea of what I will write about, a few sentences or even paragraphs that have been spinning around up there, but I am not entirely sure from where the words and sentences actually appear. It is like I am discovering what I am thinking and feeling as I write.
Sharing what I write helps me to feel less alone. There have been dark moments these past couple of years when I clicked “publish” and hoped that someone would read my words and respond. I imagine that whatever joy and pain I have experienced is not unique to the human condition. And maybe, by sharing what I have gone through, another person who has experienced something similar may feel less alone or strange for feeling what they feel.
The story of the writing life that has unfolded in these virtual pages over the past two years is a longer one that I will save for another time.