Thursday, November 24, 2005

Unload... on writing

Yesterday I was angry. Not teeth gritting angry, just a little angry.

Sometimes it happens and I don’t know why. Usually I can identify the source, or the trigger, but not this time. So I thought it best not to write about it on the spot.

These spontaneous write-ups don’t lend themselves well to publishing. It all turns quickly into bitching and then editing takes forever while I weed out the ranting from the genuine emotion, and separate reactions from legitimate thoughts. Writing is a great catharsis but publishing is something else entirely.

Talking about something that affects us emotionally will often exorcise it. Many a great writer have produced works of art based solely on exteriorizing their emotions to paper. This is also a vehicle used often in psychology to get the bad-stuff ™ out of one’s system. It’s a dichotomy really. On one hand good works are created and on the other bad feelings can be put to rest by writing them down.

Maybe there is a connection there. Is it all emotion? Good, bad, one writes from the heart and not the head? I have gotten 2 emails from friends today, one asking for advice on a work issue, the other just wanting to unload. These events got me to thinking, that the action of writing is almost as important as what is written, and then by electronic medium no less. If only Marshall McLuhan could see us now!

Both these friends are smart, savvy, true and complete individuals, and don’t really need my advice for anything! Yet they each chose a writing medium to exteriorize their tribulation. This is significant, inasmuch as they are so very completely diametrically opposed people. I would not have guessed that the common process was writing? It is true they are geographically distant from me so talking in real-time is difficult. Instead an electronic medium got me their words in an instant.

This takes nothing away from the word. Exfoliating the word from our selves is a powerful tool to wield. As with all tools, we have a reticence to use them until we have a comfort level established. However, the Written is among those tools that are 99.9% effective on the first try as a catharsis, as I said earlier.

I’m not saying we should all write a blog or diary, but if we have something weighing on our mind, it may be a good idea to write it down, even if, or maybe especially, if no one else reads it. Seldom have I produced in my little pink book things that I read over. When I did read some passages, later, it was all gibberish.

Firstly, my handwriting is atrocious and in such a small space is worse. But more important, the thoughts were of the moment, in the moment and therefore remain to this day unconnected. But at the time, the soothing that occurred was undeniable. It wasn’t an end nor all encompassing. The truth remains that my depression still occurred and darker times were still ahead.

Second, the thoughts were ill formed and therefore not publishable for future understanding. I went looking for some specific passages and found them, a word here, a thought there, and emotion throughout. This search yielded clarity for my emotions.

I thought: what if I had a baseline to work from? These raw emotions, on paper, were my lines drawn in the sand. What if I had a starting point? These were indicators, flags if you will. What if I had an emotional picture to look at? These were map lines and coordinates. They didn’t really make any sense, but they didn’t have to. Nor did any of these words provide insight to where I was going. Simply put, they just as simply lightened the load.

My premise for writing down these emotions was all wrong. I thought I was producing baggage and tools for myself, where in fact I was unloading (see that word?) Small wonder it was all gibberish! Maybe a better word for it would be rubbish. It had already served its purpose.

As I think back on it now, it is obvious that I still have lots of emotion carried from my burnout days. I did dump quite a bit of it, pell-mell though it may have been. I may never get rid of it all, but at least now I can cope, where then I could not.

The darkness comes back to haunt me on a semi-regular basis. I have no control over the onslaught, but I do have some tricks in my bag to deal with it: Writing! The real kicker is to keep it solid and readable.

As one might guess, the dark has been at me for 3 days now. Hmm, maybe I found the trigger for yesterday’s anger.

PS. The pink book was a spiral neat-book purchased at Staples in order to write down affecting thoughts during my dark-time. Pink was chosen, because it was a hopeful colour, and black was just too easy.


Anonymous Cookie said...

In my view, whether one communicates in writing or orally, and whenever one is doing so to "vent", it is crucial to do so with friends. In other words, my sanity depends on my friends.

November 24, 2005 3:39 p.m.  

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