“Why haven’t you been writing lately?” Heather asked me the other day.
“I’ve been writing,” I replied.
“Well, I haven’t seen any blogs.”
“I haven’t put any up.”
“Oh.” Heather paused for a minute, then added, “You must be working on your novel.” It was a statement, not a question.
“Well, if you’re writing, what are you writing?”
“Mostly thoughts, wonderings, just thoughts, I guess.”
“Why aren’t you sharing them on your blog? I love reading your blog. It makes me feel—” she stopped short.
“What? It makes you feel what?”
“I dunno. I just like reading it.”
I got lost in my thoughts. Why does Heather like reading my blog? Is it a reminder that she has no drama in her life since she’s divorced and has no kids at home anymore? She can’t possibly find anything I write helpful or think it’s good advice.
“So if you’re writing, why aren’t you blogging?” she asked.
“Too deep. Too dark.”
“Your thoughts? That hasn’t stopped you before.”
I wanted to say “it’s stopped me now” but I didn’t.
“You write about everything,” she continued. “Why can’t you write now?”
“I am writing,” I replied. “I’m just not sharing.”
“Okay, why aren’t you sharing?”
“Because it’s too depressing.”
“What’s too depressing? Your thoughts?”
She remained quiet for a bit, and I had the feeling she was running through files in her brain of all my blog postings that she’s read.
“What are you depressed about?” she pushed me.
“Who said I was depressed?”
“No, I didn’t. I said my thoughts are depressing. There’s a difference.”
“Okay, give me one minute, stream of consciousness thoughts.”
I laughed. “You want me to tell you what I’m thinking right now?”
“No, not what you’re thinking right now! Tell me about your deep and dark thoughts.”
“Why would I do that?” I asked, then the words echoed in my head. Why would I do that?
What causes us as writers to put our most intimate thoughts into words that are shared (sometimes anonymously) with strangers across the world? Never knowing if they’ll be read or by whom, the words become a permanent record of our thoughts, an Instagram of sorts. Fifty years from now someone will pull up a blog post and read it, just as today we pull out those inch-thick encyclopedias of our youth or 35mm reels of film or photo slides stuck with age in a projector wheel.
For me, it’s a comfort to let the thoughts escape my skull. It frees up room for other, fresher thoughts. And it’s therapeutic, cathartic in fact. Writing has saved my life on more than one occasion. Even so, there are sometimes when silence is the wiser choice.