While presenting a workshop I attended this week via Pandemic University, Michael Lista suggested people know they want to write, or what they want to write, long before they know the why.
Being a naturally introspective sort, I have been contemplating my “why?” ever since.
Then today I came across a fellow Sjogren’s friend’s post online saying she is going to be returning to writing her blog this weekend. Her comment to friends and family was “It’s scary”. This was my response to her:
“Being scared means you are vulnerable, being vulnerable means you are authentic, being authentic means you got real with your words, and that is what people relate to the very most. It’s all good.”
Today as I thought about why I write, I drilled down to be more specific, thinking about why I write about personal health issues. The personal health topic brings me the most fear when writing, but probably not for the reasons you might guess. What scares me the most is that people might think I am doing it for attention or sympathy. I fear people thinking I am being dramatic regarding events that happened. Trust me, truth IS stranger than fiction; I do not need to embellish a word.
So what do I want?
Why write health stories to post publicly?
One is a selfish reason, the other altruistic.
First, the selfish reason. I have zero desire for sympathy. However, I do crave understanding for my particular situation. I want people to understand my strange constellation of autoimmune connective tissue illnesses, the myriad of symptoms that combine to make every day a new adventure.
The second reason is to educate others, in the hope of preventing them, or someone they love, from suffering needlessly as they wade through the murky bog that diagnosis, treatment, and living with a chronic health issue of any type can be. I want to spare people needless anxiety, especially if they are in the middle of a health misdiagnosis fiasco.
So that is the why of writing about my medical issues. But what about my other writing – the word balm poems, the “bite-size” childhood memoir, the Mr. Wanton stories, the fiction and other memoir not yet published on my blog or elsewhere, but still buried in notebooks between other journal writing?
When I was a young girl, I remember playing games like tag, or Blind Man’s Bluff, running to breathlessness, being chased, kids hollering “run for your life!” I ran to be “safe”.
Now, “I write for my life”.
That said, Michael Lista also told the class this week: “Never trust a writer who thinks they’ve figured it out.”
Links that may be of interest:
Friend, fellow Sjogren’s patient, writer Christine Molloy’s blog “Thoughts and Ramblings on Life, Love and Health”. http://www.christinemolloy.com
Writer Michael Lista’s webpage. http://www.michaellista.com
Pandemic University, a totally fake university with excellent 90 minute live and archived writing sessions presented by experts in the field. http://www.pandemicuniversity.com