I once bought a snoopy diary. With my own money.
I took it to the Rec. Center immediately because I was proud of having some place to put my innermost thoughts. I wasn’t quite as proud when I got laughed at for it. They laughed at my secrecy and my interest in writing. They laughed at the little lock on the side that could easily be broken with a little force. Probably they laughed at Snoopy too, but I didn’t care about that. Snoopy is cool.
I kept that diary for approximately five days. It took me about that long to figure out that I didn’t lead a very interesting life. I didn’t have daily realizations or go on adventures. I was about 8 and I knew that my life couldn’t be lived internally. I couldn’t be Emily Dickenson, even though I didn’t know who she was. I couldn’t just imagine everything and have that be enough. I also couldn’t just write for myself. I needed someone else to know about it, to take a look. I think it was probably about then that I realized my words couldn’t just go down on paper that was locked away.
In middle and high school I tried again. I kept journals this time. I wrote in them every day and they were very important to me. But, I would copy out of them for others and I would read them out loud constantly to my friends. I started writing and sharing so much that I would write on scraps of newspaper that had little bits of white space. I would write poems and ideas that made sense to me, and then I would seek out feedback. My words were still so incredibly mine, though. I didn’t even contemplate letting others use them or do anything other than think about what I had meant by them.
Then I started blogging. And that’s where my words went. And I stopped guarding things, and I stopped forcing people to listen to me or dragging my notebooks and diaries around just so that people would discovery that I was a writer. My blog became that same space that was formerly so limited. I no longer control the words or where they end up. Some end up in a teacher’s course. Some end up in a tweet. Some end up captured in a PDF on someone’s hard drive.
I am giving these words away.
I realized in three hundred days that I don’t own them. I am using them to get somewhere and other people may use them to get where they are going. These stories are mine in that I have lived them, but they only really exist if they are told. They belong to anyone who finds them useful. These questions belong to anyone who is asking them.
If our words are going into diaries, we need to know why we feel the need to hide them from the rest of the world while we advertise the fact that we have things worthy of writing down.
If our words are going into journals and scraps of paper, we need to know why we are desperate for an audience of the few people around us we trust most.
If our words are going on blogs, we need to know why we are setting them free to live among everyone else’s stories and ideas.
I write now because my words are making meaning. For Me. For Us.