Writing 250,000 Words
I’ve written over 250,000 words since the middle of 2016 when I started journaling every morning. That doesn’t include the six months I spent writing 150 A5 pages in a physical journal, which I gave up because I wasn’t writing as much, nor accessing the kinds of truths and insights that come from writing near the speed of thought, bucking self-censorship or rewriting in my head, and charging forward to the next thought or feeling and giving it shape and constraint in language. I like writing with pens because it slows me down and forces me to focus on expressing myself well. But that’s not quite what’s needed in the morning when thoughts are still nebulous and unaligned with the day’s tasks or past.
What will I do with all these words I’ve made? I occasionally think of drawing from them to create articles or more formalized writings, but really they exist as a record of my reasonings with myself. It takes a lot of reflection to know whether something is happening because it should be happening, because you really want it to happen, or because the wagon is riding through deep ruts and the weight of habit is a blanket of unexamined comfort we hesitate to shed. Writing in the morning doesn’t always sort this out, nor does it often unveil such clarities, but when it does it is like meditation, or a funeral for a bad decision, or laying rich soil over a withered garden.
In this exercise, I write for myself, save for this that you are reading now. This feels somehow greedy, like a dragon hoarding its treasure, or a beetle scooting its ball of dung. Which is why I’m working to write more, to share more, to leave more open my shared self. When I was a child I had a terrible problem with believing everyone had the same education and knew the same things I did. This meant that when someone asked a question, especially a technical one, I thought of them as idiots, forgetting how I’d learned everything I knew, which was through patient questions and answers from other kids, adults, and books, and eventually the internet. My incredulity was cruel, because so much of our society is predicated on shame, and I could with a glance bring shame to an adult. (How do you exist without knowing how to use computers? How can you have a job without knowing how to edit the registry?) I soon came to realize that instead of invoking shame I could evoke money, and had to learn how to treat people decently and with patience while lubricated by money. My eagerness to help people spread, without the money, when I saw over and over how the delight of empowerment radiated from someone who learned how to do something to help themselves, for good. This is an important facet of education, and I’m somewhat suspicious of people involved in it without this kind of a story of revelation. But perhaps it is a fiction I tell myself, and it is the lesser of my two stories of educational revelation, the second being the jarring juxtaposition of freedoms and learning between my Montessori elementary school with my public middle school.
Anyway. It feels good to write, and the thing that holds me back from sharing my writing is half craft, and half shame, and the shame part, for lack of craft, is representative of the part of society that needs to wither, like the garden, replaced by honest words.