For much of my adult life I have wondered why I think about things so deeply, why I see things others don't (or they do, but they don't talk about it), and why I can't focus on external things like most of the people I know.
I guess a part of me has always realized that it's never been a conscious choice. It's the very essence of who I am.
In fact, I wrote my first memoir when I was 27. It was about all the jobs and careers I'd had by then. I thought it might be helpful to recent college graduates. Publishing houses rejected it en mass. Finally, one editor wrote and said, "You've got a wonderful 'voice,' but no one cares about your job search or your life unless you're a celebrity."
Even that didn't dissuade me. Ultimately I hooked up with my college career counselor who had become a good friend, changed the book entirely, and wrote a "how-to" book called Job Search Strategy for College Grads, which was published.
It wasn't the story I wanted to tell, but it was a story I could tell. Still, I have continued to write "personal stuff" despite all the rejections. The reason is because I need to write it to understand my life...to make sense of the world around me.
Despite everything, I've never been interested in writing fiction. I am only interested in "confessional writing," which "is degraded by the very term used to describe this revelation of one's most intimate story, while objectivity, distance, detachment, and impartiality are valorized," according to Deena Metzger in her book, Writing for Your Life.
"Because the inner exploration is so very essential to every creative life, we must challenge those attitudes and risk the exploration of those forbidden realms," Metzger writes. "For despite the prevailing judgments, it is clear that vitality, zest, the very life force itself lie inside and are not to be dismissed, that what is acceptable never has the range of what is still unknown and unexplored, and, finally, that it is the unique vision and exploration, our own subjectivity, that we all secretly seek and cherish."
I couldn't agree more. Recently I've realized that there are paths we take because we must. For a long time I have known that I write to live. And for me, the only writing I care about comes from my heart rather than my head.
This blog is a perfect example. I've spent over 15 years researching bipolar disorder. I've read more than a hundred books on bipolarity, depression, and related topics. I've downloaded more than 1,000 pages of information. I could share that information with you, and I sometimes do.
But, for the most part, journalistic writing doesn't interest me nor does it help me clarify the issues and themes I write about. What helps me is to tell my story...to see if it resonates with you...and to hear yours in return.
While that may strike some people as narcissistic or self-absorbed, I've never seen it that way. But, perhaps Barbara Myerhoff, who was a dear friend of Deena Metzger's, explains it best:
"A self is made, not given. It is a creative and active process of attending a life that must be heard, shaped, seen, said aloud into the world, finally enacted and woven into the lives of others. Then a life attended is not an act of narcissism or disregard for others; on the other hand, it is searching through the treasures and debris of ordinary existence for the clear points of intensity that do not erode, do not separate us, that are most intensely our own, yet other people's too. The best lives and stories are made up of minute particulars that somehow are also universal and of use to others as well as oneself."
FYI...I just read Roller Coaster and learned that Marja has been feeling depressed. If you know her and treasure her as I do, I'm sure she would appreciate your support!