Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Writing, in general

I have two blogs, but there is the added attraction of a blank page.

I absolutely adore jounals. All those blank pages waiting to be filled - all the possibilities of what can be put down there. Journals can be intimidating too. A challenge, if you will... to write interesting things. Goals, experiences, triumphs and defeats. They are almost by definition grandiose things because the ideas behind journaling come from extremes and absolutes: I WILL do this; I WON'T do that; it was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

I have lost count of the number of journals I have enthusiastically begun only to peter out after a few pages written because life really isn't extreme - in fact, it is rather mundane. Some days it is too much work to find the highs and lows, so I tread the middle ground, which really isn't worth writing about.

My grandmother understands this all too well. Our letters have become somewhat sporadic as neither one of us feel that there is much to say about our daily lives. There is the grind of getting up every day, and once I've ascertained that I haven't joined the listings on the obituary page, there is my daily life to conduct the business of. One must eat, drink water, consume whatever medications are necessary, move about some so nothing rusts up. If you have a job, you go spend time doing that and if you don't, you come up with something to fill the time between waking and sleeping.

Grandma doesn't feel that she has anything to say. I don't feel that I have anything to say.

But the truth is - we have lots to say to each other.

Her stories of life as an immigrant to the United States as a young single mother in the 50s, her run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan, her life as a professor's wife and her dealings with his early-onset dementia and death while returning to England are all endlessly fascinating to me.

And for her, stories of my adventures as a biker, rock climber, martial artist as well as two marriages, late-in-life motherhood allow her to see a life very different from the one she had.
She gets the agony and ecstasy of my first novel, my full-time job, and a house that needs lots of work.

How can we possibly claim that we have nothing to say?

Yet our letters are far and few between. I am 45 and life is busy if not terribly exciting. By the time I have some moments to sit and write, I am often exhausted and my mind is blank. She is 89. From what I gather, life isn't overly busy, but the mere fact of exsistence somedays renders her wordless or just too tired to put words to paper for someone else's amusement.

Understanding flows both ways.

But we cannot let that stop us. She still has stories I need to hear. I still have tales she wants to read. And time goes by all too quickly. One day, hopefully not any day in the near future, but one day - the time for letterwriting will be over. I will know everything there is to know of her from her writing because she will never write to me again.

Journal writing (and blogging), therefore, has more than one purpose to me. First, it is a daily reminder of what is going on in my life that I can refer to when I write to my grandmother. Second, it is my voice. My thoughts, my feelings, my observations - which will stay behind and talk for me when my own letter-writing days are over.


Oh, The Joys said...

I haven't had anything but sad things to say for awhile.

(Speaking of which, your mom made my day yesterday with her comment. She is the best!)

Jeff said...

Letter writing is a lost art. I wish I could get into it. I have an aunt who still writes to family members regularly, maybe I will surprise her with one.

As far as the journals. I love the idea of journals far more than I like blogs. I started one a few years ago, but found that my hand cramped up too much to continue. It doesn't do that on the computer. Oh well, my loss is your gain. ;)

That girl said...

You know, that was beautifully written. I think blogging also says "i've been here" and you can save it and the boy can read it one day should he so choose to.

nikki said...

I wish I would have asked my grandma to write down her stories. What a wonderful idea and family keepsake.

Anonymous said...

I tried to email you about your feedback on my blog, but guess what?


Anonymous said...

Beverly wrote wonderful letters and saved every letter she ever got, I think. Cordelia has sorted them and sent them to the writers when we could find them. Friends were delighted to get their own letters back years later.