Writing Out Loud

“Blogging is writing out loud.” What a great way to summarize this particular craft. As a 3-year (and counting) blogger, I have always felt that what I write is very consistent with what I’d say. It has a conversational tone and as Sullivan says, “As soon as I began writing this way, I realized that the online form rewarded a colloquial, unfinished tone.”  This is the type of writing I love.

It’s also the instantaneous display of writing to the public world that I like so much. Yes, sometimes people blog about private topics, but they are free to create user names to disguise their true selves–this is the beauty of the virtual world.

“But with one click of the Publish Now button, all these troubles evaporated.” Forget about the complexity of writing, editing, revision and impressing your editors. Blogging is easy and essentially pain-free. All you need is a topic you’re passionate about and a blogging platform. Then it’s up to you to let the writing begin.

Now comes the sometimes scary, revengeful part of blogging–the comments. People in the blogosphere can be quite blunt. They are opinionated and will do whatever it takes to prove you wrong, to disagree with your own views, to humiliate you in front of your audience. I’ve gotten negative reviews (on something silly like a dating blog), but still, the feeling of public ridicule and complete disagreement is not good. Eventually I started breezing past the negative comments. I certainly don’t blog to put myself in a negative mood. I blog to have fun, to be happy, to share my stories with others who can relate to what I’m feeling. So to all of you out there in the blogosphere, if you have something to say, start your own blog. It’s as easy as that! Do not write an entire post in the comments section just to put down the original writer.

“To blog is therefore to let go of your writing in a way, to hold it at arm’s length, open it to scrutiny… ” How ever hard this is to admit, this is the truth. With our changing world of technology, almost nothing is private anymore. When you make the decision to blog you make the decision to open yourself up to the world.

Writers Read and Readers Write

As I read Brandt’s piece, I began to think about my education as a child. Did my teachers teach me to read or write? In Elememtary school, both reading and writing were emphasized equally. But as soon as the basic skill of reading was mastered (“The boy kicked the ball. Then he ran home.”) the focus shifted to how to become a better writer. All throughout junior high and high school my teachers helped me improve as a writer, but being a good reader was basically expected. I’m thinking this may have something to do with why I despise academic reading, but am pretty good at explaining myself in words.

Brandt provides examples of on-the-job training associated with writing. I think it’s common to emphasize what one can produce (through writing) and forget about what one can take in (through reading). But if these two forms of communication go hand-in-hand, shouldn’t we put just as much time and effort into raising effective readers?

“Creative writing is especially popular among the group doing the least amount of reading, the young.” I suppose I fit in to this description. I have always enjoyed writing creatively much more than reading.

“If reading makes us more informed, independent, innovative, productive and free, what does writing do–accept apparently make us less inclined to read?” At first this sentence made me mad. Writing does so much more than make us less inclined to read. I think writing is more innovative, productive and free than reading. When I read, I feel confined. But when I write, I feel free to express my inner thoughts.

Brandt redeems herself by including the positive feelings of workday writers: “…and the pleasures they derive from what can only be called authorship, including the satisfaction of feeling their words enter and at times alter the environments that surround them.” I can relate to this feeling of satisfaction and pleasure that occurs when I write. I love the quote Brandt includes from a freelance writer. It embodies how I hope to feel as a freelance writer in the future.

I think Brandt did a good job of explaining the relationship between reading and writing and how our world is changing in terms of both.

I Write to Express Myself

I am sixteen years old standing in my kitchen arguing with my parents over something silly like a house party I wasn’t allowed to attend or how I think life is unfair. My disappointment turns to anger and my anger to sadness and before I know it I am sent up to my bedroom to cool down. Still shaken by the negative experience and agony I caused not only to myself, but also to my parents, I sit on my bed crying. I feel so many different emotions at once, but most of all I am mad—mad at myself for making such a big deal out of nothing. I pull out my journal, open up to a fresh page and begin writing. Only now do I know everything is going to be okay. Or at least it appears that way, as I spill my heart out in words.

At moments like this, writing is all that matters. The rest of the world is shut off and my thoughts travel from mind to pencil to paper. Sometimes I write in paragraph form and my ideas flow in chronological order, other times I scribble down every idea hoping to free them from my cluttered mind and still other times I write organized lists—and it all goes back to what I’m thinking. I write to express myself.

Spilling Your Heart Out in Words

I chose Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper and Kerry Cohen’s Loose Girl. Both of these pieces of writing are excellently written and intellectually engaging, and for that reason, I would like to emulate both.

I’ll start with My Sister’s Keeper. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I do not like to read, unless it’s a woman’s magazine or lively blog post. Whenever I was assigned summer readings in high school, I would literally jump up and down screaming in excitement each time I finished a book. But my mom and sister would not stop raving about My Sister’s Keeper, so I decided to give it a shot.

Once I started reading the book, I could not put it down. This book’s controversial topic and unique writing style was so engaging. I selected My Sister’s Keeper because it is one of the only fiction books I have enjoyed reading so much. Picoult’s words jump off the page and put you at the center of the action. This is what I strive for when I write. To me, without emotion and personality, there is no need for words. When I read something, I like to feel the truth, the sincerity, the passion behind a subject and Picoult does an amazing job of this.

Each chapter of the book is written from a different character’s point of view and is also printed in a different font. It helps the reader distinguish who’s saying and feeling what and when these words and emotions come out. I would love to write a book that expresses such a challenging topic in a style and tone that engages readers like me. There are so many unexpected twists and turns in the book; it’s no surprise it was turned into a movie.

Now on to Loose Girl. You may question the credibility of a book with that title, but believe me when I tell you it was one of the most engaging, powerful books I’ve ever read. It’s a personal memoir of Kerry Cohen’s struggle with promiscuity and addiction to male attention. I read it after seeing recommendations on a blog I follow and write for.

Loose Girl is very detailed and descriptive from the very start of the book. Instead of slowly opening up as a writer and expressing herself more and more as the personal memoir progresses, Cohen leaves nothing to the imagination from page one. I selected this piece because it reveals what the author is thinking and feeling. It’s very personal, and at the same time, easy to relate to. This is the kind of writing I plan to do.

“The unforgettable memoir of one young woman who desperately wanted to matter, Loose Girl will speak to countless others with its compassion, understanding, and love.”

By being so honest and engaging, Cohen gives a great message to women and girls. The vulnerable topic of Loose Girl is almost blinded by Cohen’s strength as a writer. I hope to someday write about touchy subjects in a way that portrays confidence so my readers may learn and grow from their inner struggles.

I admire these writers for spilling out their hearts in words.

Why Do They Write? Why Do I Write?

George Orwell

George Orwell’s in-depth recollection of his childhood was interesting to me. It made me wonder if my childhood is to praise for the writer I am today. I suppose it’s true to some extent; I’ve always had a desire to express myself whether it be in a locked away diary, private blog post, or article for the world to see. Here’s how Orwell’s motives for writing apply to me…

  • Sheer egoism: Yes, I do enjoy seeing my name in print. It makes me feel accomplished. But then again, who doesn’t like to feel this way–writer or not?
  • Aesthetic enthusiasm: I love it when I produce a perfectly crafted sentence. Reading my wisely written prose is almost as fun as seeing a brand new fall runway show, and trust me, fashion is another form of beauty in the external world.
  • Historical impulse: Straight-forward and to the point.
  • Political purpose: Politics are not my cup of tea. I write what I like; I don’t try pushing any secret agenda on readers. Orwell did say the first three motives outweigh this one. But then he goes on to say how everything he writes that lacks a political purpose is lifeless. When it comes to my own writing, I disagree.

Joan Didion

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking…What I want and what I fear.”  So do I. I live for the moment when I can open up a blank word document and type everything and anything that comes to my mind. Some of it makes sense and some of it doesn’t.  A bundle of ideas and reflections that feel much better on paper than in my head. Didion knows what she’s talking about. The idea of turning pictures into prose is something that I can relate to. All writers view the world differently and it’s in our power to write how and why we please.