I just finished listening to an audio program on self-discovery. It wasn’t the most inspiring program I’ve ever heard; a lot of it was repeat information for me, and the mixed metaphors — bridges, tunnels, chains, tapestries, and even boxes of crayons — left me cringing. But one of the metaphors did tie in to something I’ve been thinking about lately regarding my writing life. The speaker talked about tunnel vision: how at a very early age, we learn how to think and act and relate to the world around us a certain way. And how, as adults, it can be very hard to look outside our tunnels and see things differently.
When I was a child, my mother would take me to the library regularly. I loved the library, and I loved coming home each time with a stack of books. I read a lot, and I always read fiction. Throughout my entire life, I’ve loved reading fiction. And when I started writing, I wrote fiction. In the sixth grade, I wrote “choose your own adventure” stories with rabbits as the main characters (inspired, no doubt, by my love for Watership Down). In junior high, I wrote short stories about girls my age who invariably had some sort of magical power, or a horse. In college, I majored in creative writing and took multiple fiction workshops. But I never really loved fiction writing. I wrote fiction because my tunnel vision equated being a writer with being a novelist. After college, whenever I sat down and tried to write a short story, or approach the more formidable task of planning a novel, my heart wasn’t in it. I still identified myself as a writer, but I couldn’t say I was passionate about it. I wrote very little for many years.
And then I started blogging. At first it was slow going; I really wasn’t sure what I was going to post in my blog. But eventually, as I began to think more about the things I was learning and experiencing, I started doing something I hadn’t done in a long time: writing in my head. Whenever I’m driving in my car, or taking a shower, or falling asleep at night, I am forming sentences in my head, constructing entire paragraphs that demand to be put down on paper (or the screen, as it may be). These thoughts won’t go away until I record them. And once I do, space is freed in my mind for other topics to blossom. I am constantly writing, constantly thinking of topics to explore, of ideas to share.
I took a non-fiction writing class in college, and I loved it. My one piece of work in print, in Potpourri magazine, was a non-fiction account of my experiences in Africa. And yet those experiences somehow didn’t give me the permission I needed to pursue creative non-fiction writing as a career path. I think that’s due to several things. First of all, blogging didn’t even exist when I graduated from college. But more significantly, I never trusted my judgments before, or put much value in my own opinions. I had to get to where I am now in life, to experience the things I have, to become the person I now am, to feel like I have enough knowledge and wisdom and insight to have something to share with other people. I’ve learned — am continually learning — things that I believe can help other people lead happier, more inwardly rich lives. I love writing articles that are informative, that can help others in some way. I enjoy taking complex topics and breaking them down so that they are more accessible to other people. This is a side of writing that I’ve never fully experienced before. Only once I stepped outside my tunnel and looked at writing in a different way was I able to rediscover my love for it.
I was worried that, with more freelance assignments building, I wouldn’t have time or inclination enough to write in my blog, but look — I’ve been posting nearly every day. The more I write, the more I want to write. The more I learn, the more I want to share with others. And I hope that never goes away.