Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm terrible.

Terrible at posting a blog, that is. I do a lot of writing lately as I have loads of time on my hands here in Copenhagen, but it's mostly letters. I spend at least a couple of hours a day just writing people e-mails, and though I usually start out each letter with the intention of only writing a few sentences or passing on a worthy link, I more often wind up writing the equivalent of several pages. My letters become my diary of sorts.

I've probably received about twenty journals as gifts in my life, and have never made it more than ten percent of the way through any one of them. My e-mails, though--they are a chronicle of my friendships, boyfriends, breakups, family issues, temporary obsessions--and they have been spewed out with far greater abandon than they would have had I sat down with pen and paper. That said, I still always have a tiny journal with me most of the time. I think using a pen versus a keyboard accesses a different part of my brain, as if writing more slowly allows for less free-association and encourages a little more focus. My typed letters tend to be a series of tangents. My handwritten stuff can be tangential, too, but it's far more controlled and I usually wind up inspiring actual well thought-out ideas.

(In the distance you can see a few hundred deer waiting for dusk to fall in Dyrehavn. Then the barking, the mating, and the head-butting begin.)

Today I copied a link to to send to my brother, titled "The World Needs You to Do What You Love." The blog was exactly what I needed to read right now, and I knew he could use it, too. But then I had to preface it with a little introduction. First, I let him know I officially signed up for nutrition school, and I knew that it would help me to write out exactly why this was going to be amazing for me, that I knew I had some self-defeating habits I need to crush, and then, of course, I had to tell him why I thought I had them in the first place. I figured he might get something out of it, considering we had the same crazy parents, we have similar insecurities, we have similar questions about how to fix ourselves ... you get the picture. I moved it to Word so I could see it all laid out in front of me better, and I wound up typing 2,500 words. Whoops.

When I talk I don't tend to be long-winded, and when I write I deeply value brevity. After spending over an hour just typing the stream of thoughts through my head, though, I did not want to go back and make it shorter. What's great is that I know it doesn't matter to him. I know he'll enjoy it, that he'll read every word, and that mistakes don't matter all that much to him. What matters most is that he has a glimpse inside my head, and we grow a little closer as a result.

I think this is the biggest reason why I would rather write an e-mail any day than scribble in my journal. I like knowing that not only do I have a record of my thoughts, I have shared it with one other person, and for me it's a lot safer than writing my secrets down on a journal that could be found by anyone. I've gone back to old e-mails over and over, and sometimes I'm extremely surprised by the bizarre headspace I was in at the time. If it had been taken out of context and shown to me, I often wouldn't recognize it as my own writing.

What makes it monumentally more rewarding than writing in a journal, however, is the response. I don't expect novellas in kind, but any acknowledgment at all lets me know I've connected.


  1. I am very much the same in that I not much of a blogger, nor am I good at writing in a journal, but I am good at writing emails and snail mail letters. There is something about sharing your thoghts and feelings with someone who will understand that inspires a fluidity that I find hard to reproduce in a blog/journal.

    Nicely written...

    Jeffrey Gridley

  2. You are connecting.
    I could not write in a journal, but I find that the feedback I get from friends and strangers really encourages me to write.

    I think blogs are like letters to your friends that strangers can glom onto and become your friends. I've never had a bad experience because of one.

    They also keep me a bit honest so that I don't fall into any easy logical traps or whatnot. My friends generally agree with what I say, but I stay intellectually sharp by considering a stranger's view of what I say.

    Thanks for the post!

  3. Matt, I see what you mean, though I've witnessed on a few not-so-great blogs a lot of seemingly sincere ass-kissing. I have made friends for life through blogging, people who I've gone on to meet around the world, and for that I love it. These ARE letters to my friends, present and future, though I admit I do more a lot more censoring in a blog not knowing who could potentially read it. I wish I didn't. I also love the fact I can see sides of my old friends--like you--that I probably wouldn't see otherwise.

    Jeffrey, I think you nailed it. Writing one or two people in particular does make it all flow a little more easily. It probably has a lot to do with knowing what's going to appeal to them, make them laugh, get them excited. I have enjoyed some letters so much before that I use them as blogs.

  4. I feel the exact same way about handwriting. I never bring my computer to the coffee shop, where I do most of my writing. It has to happen by hand. And I suspect I love writing in itself, seeing the pen make lines on the paper which actually contain meaning.

  5. I also love how different my handwriting can be from page to page, depending on whether or not I'm in a chair, on a boat, in a car, on a plane, slightly intoxicated, so on. That's something that changes for everyone over the years, too--I always marveled at how the old folks in my family all seemed to have the same handwriting by the time they hit their 70's. It's funny, too, when I go to the bookstore cafe here in Cph, the ideas just pour out of my head. I can't write quickly enough. Must be capitalizing on that collective unconscious so often found in cafes...