Saturday, August 14, 2010

Motivations for Writing: A Retrospective

My last post was heavy in plot. Sometimes I wonder if my entries with plots are more engaging than those without or with little. I wonder about my posts with heavy descriptions too. Are they more pleasant to read? It's such a tricky endeavor, trying to please my current audience and attract a new one at the same time.

This reminds me that I am also the audience. When I try to figure out if I have written my posts well and engagingly, I am really asking myself if I would like to read this. I wonder more if I would enjoy the prose than the content. I think everyone lives a life worth writing about, although less introspective and observant people will likely have more trouble getting the words out, at least in a way that will accurately convey what they are trying to say.

Lately I've been wondering about what compels me to write what I write in here. A lot of it, especially when I am feeling awful and describing that experience, I write because I want a reaction. I get that through comments. It's support. I get that in my personal life from my loving family and friends, but I simply can't express my feelings and ideas as well through speaking as I can through writing. I need to have words in front of me. It helps me organize my thoughts and remember what I said seconds earlier. Also, writing helps me think. Whether it's an essay for school, a letter to a friend or a post in here, I seldom know what I'm trying to say when I start writing. Then everything comes to me when I start typing or handwriting.

I think it's partly the physical act of writing. A thought comes into my head. Then I think it again as I type. That repetition of thought keeps me from forgetting what it is. I'm just thinking of whatever words I'm currently typing. One thought -- one sentence -- at a time. This allows for a focus and concentration that I can't get with thinking alone. Writing makes thinking more manageable. Also, I tend to think too much. Part of my introspective nature, I suppose. Writing helps me put that thought away so I can focus on other things.

But back to my reasons for writing here. I've had a bunch of illnesses and disability issues in my 24 years. Why did I decide to start writing about it all in November? Why not earlier? I think it was a culmination of things. It seemed like all of my friends were moving out and getting grown-up jobs. This made me resent my current health situation because I had finished university like they had, but was not moving forward like they were because I was sick.

Because my balance and fatigue issues had worsened, I was reflecting on provisions that had been made for me at school as a kid due to these issues or at least to concerns for my safety. Writing in this blog was my way of trying to understand these provisions which, for the first time in my life, I felt I needed.

Blogging helped me come to terms with the effect of my health and disability on my childhood and it also helped me deal with the reality that I will likely have to tailor my personal and professional lives to whatever my body needs. Many times here, I have shared my fears that stem from the invisibility and unpredictability of my issues: Do people think I'm faking symptoms? Am I imagining some of this? In here I have expressed my gratitude that I have medical evidence like a CT scan to remind myself and others that this is real.

Writing in here helped me realize that I was in denial about my issues. They're mild issues in the disability world, especially because they are intermittent, but they're still a part of me. I struggle sometimes. I felt that writing more about it here would help me get comfortable telling people when I was struggling and asking for help if I needed it, being okay with having some difficulties or needing breaks or needing to opt out of things if I didn't feel up to it. The truth is that I still have trouble telling people I'm having a hard time or need to take a break.

I have so many questions about my health issues and I suppose I naively thought I could answer them through writing here.

15 comments :

  1. Hello there. I would much rather write than talk, and I'm sure that is a writer's personality, but not so in every case. You're still coming to terms with issues for which there are no easy answers. As far as school goes, take every special consideration you can get as your struggle is more difficult than a person without a disability. I'm sure writing for you is therepeutic and your readers in the blogosphere are here to listen and support you in this. I hope you are at least keeping a journal of your emotions, trials, good times etc and one day you may feel like writing a book, even if it's fictional, based on fact.

    Keep writing. I love to read your posts and I'm sure your other followers do also..:)

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  2. By all means, keep blogging! I like what you do here. People blog for a lot of different reasons. Some research has shown that it helps with psychosocial well being and also helps to create dimensions of social support and friendship.

    Jane

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  3. I don't think it's naive at all, and I know there are boocoodles of people who are dealing with chronic illnesses like you have and feel exactly the same way. When you are good, you're great, and it makes you forget to listen to your body, and then it slams you back into submission. Yes, being a nurse, I do understand. I think it's wonderful that you have this outlet to explore just how to learn to incorporate it into your life. BRAVO to you dear one.

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  4. So sorry you have health issues as such a young person. I wish you well.

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  5. Ashley, blogging is the best thing you can do for yourself and for us!

    You've been over to my blog and met my daughter. She was 24 when she got her brain injury. She can empathize with you. So can I. It's a difficult road you're traveling.

    It's how we deal with our challenges that's important. Keep writing about your experiences, your frustrations, your good times--and sharing them with others.
    Ann

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  6. hello Ashley, thanks for the lovely comment you left on my blog.. it's nice to meet you. I like your honesty here, and i agree with jane when she says that people blog for many different reasons. The start of your post struck me as perhaps.. don't worry to much about pleasing or attracting other people/readers.. just write for you.. it's your blog, those who like what you write will come again and those that do are here because 'they' want to be.. because they like it here :)

    I also, like Jayne, don't think it's naive at all to think that your blogging may be able to answer some of the questions that arise for you about your health issues.. it is after all a place where you are exploring through your writing (or whatever form of expression you choose) and you do it beautifully. and although some answers wont be immediatley obvious.. their is always the possibility that you may gain a lot of personal insights from them at a later time ;)

    Be patient with yourself.. that's something i have to remind myself of often :o) xx

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  7. L'Aussie - Yes, it is therapeutic to write in here! I am also keeping a diary, yes. I have been writing in a diary for 9 years now. Thanks for your advice about school. I must make accommodations necessary and remember that my issues will make the experience more difficult.

    Jane - It wouldn't surprise me that blogging helps with pyschosocial well being. I do feel I've made friendships here. Thanks for this perspective and for your encouragement!

    Jayne - It's true that good periods make me forget to pay attention to my body. Then I end up paying for it! It's a difficult cycle. Thanks for the "bravo"! This is a great outlet for me.

    Eva - Thanks! I think the fact that I'm young makes these difficulties that much harder to swallow.

    Ann - I'm glad that you can empathize with me. Your blog is inspirational to me as I hope mine is to others! Thanks.

    Green - Wow! What a comment! I will take your advice about writing for myself. Thanks for noting my honesty. I think that's partly what keeps readers coming back here.

    Blogging may help, sure. Writing is definitely an exploration as I explained, just as reading these posts later on will be -- and already have been, actually. Great point and thanks for the compliments!

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  8. I find writing helps me work through and deal with all sorts of issues. If I feel angry about something I will write about it, then destroy my writing. If I feel like sharing, I blog. Keep going with your writing, I'm sure it will help.

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  9. Hi Ashley. Keep writing and blogging. I agree with GreenWhisper, write for yourself. The writing process can be very therapeutic and at times most enlightening. If it helps you manage illness, even all the more reason for doing so.

    So keep posting and take care.

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  10. I'm not a handyman but I have heard it is nice to see visible evidence of hard work. I'm not an author but have found the visible evidence of a few paragraphs to be quite therapuetic. Even if the audience is small.

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  11. Ca88andra - Yes, writing then destroying is an interesting idea. I have considered it, being a long time diarist, but I just can't part with something that I put my whole self into, especially with its potential for future nostalgia indulgence. Thanks for your thoughts! I'm glad writing helps you.

    Mary - Yes, enlightening is the word! Also, writing does help me manage. Thanks for your insight!

    Dr. Goose - That's interesting. You have a blog, but you don't consider yourself a writer? You're right that even a small audience is worth having.

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  12. I don't think it's naive to blog/write your way through something. The only thing is, answers don't come overnight. Heck, they rarely even come in a year. They come bit by bit, day by day, until you suddenly look back and realize you've got them.

    So take your time. Write it out. Answers will come.

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  13. Kristen - Thanks! You're right. It is definitely a long process, but it will help me in the long wrong, I think. Good point that reading the blog later will help me reflect on this experience. Thanks for coming and welcome!

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  14. I think one of the reasons I love to read your blog, aside from the fact that you write really really well, is because I can sooooo relate to you! Your posts and the comments people leave on them help me a lot, even if they weren't written for or about me. I had never really considered my problems chronic (didn't really think about it) but what Jayne said about people dealing with chronic illnesses; when they feel good, they're great, and they forget to listen to their bodies, and then it slams them back into submission; that is sooooo me!!!!

    I almost feel selfish for feeling that way, but I'm also happy that it helps me. I'm so happy you're blogging and that you dropped by my blog that day. I know I take forever to read your posts because I'm so busy but when I do start reading them to catch up I just can't pull myself away!

    I'm so happy you have the strength of character and positive outlook to deal with your health issues. I know it doesn't make it any less uncomfortable, inconvenient, frustrating, etc but I wonder if it doesn't make it a little easier. I struggle so much with depression and negativity and fear that I wonder if they aren't the cause of my physical health problems instead of the other way around. On a happier note I have been doing better though since I stopped eating fast food and have adopted an IBS diet. I think I'm still having issues with my thyroid medicine though so I really need to get it checked again, but it is nice not having indigestion and nausea twenty four seven now.

    Anyway I don't know what point I was making or what I was getting at (when I start writing I tend to go on tangents in all directions lol), but I just wanted to say I love your blog, I'm happy you write, I totally empathize with you and I have the best of wishes for your health and happiness.

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  15. Achieve - Wow, what a comment! I appreciate the care and detail. You know, compliments on my writing make me blush more than any others! Since I started writing about this stuff, I hoped it would help people or provide support to those going through similar things. Thanks for telling me it worked! You're right, blogging does help make it a bit easier. Thanks for your health updates too.

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