Over the past week, I’ve had some interesting conversations regarding my post “Why Bother?” For those of you who don’t know, I try to write my blog posts a week or two in advance. Today is one of those days. When I wrote “Why Bother,” it wasn’t. That was what was on my mind at exactly that moment on that day. The same day it was published.
And sometimes that works out alright. Other times, not so much. Either way, it is important to get these thoughts arranged and aired out a bit. Then I’ll shove them back, ragtag and mismatched, and worry over them all again.
It’s just the way my mind works.
But at that time, I was really struggling. The struggle is real, folks. Very real. And I’m still dealing with it. Right now, it’s not as bad as it was last week, but it’s still there. Depression and it’s little brother, Self-Doubt, are a constant companion for me. They suck as friends, in case you weren’t sure.
But what was nice was that I had some very nice conversations about that post and how those words sparked emotions and thoughts within the readers. Some were commiserating with the feelings, some were full of support. It was a mix. Just like how they reached me. Not every comment was made using the blog. I got emails.
Very supportive emails.
So what started out as something meant to release some pressure while reminding me what is important, struck a chord with others. It’s been rare for me that anything of the kind has happened. Touching doesn’t even begin to express it. People cared about what I had to say. They cared because of what I was feeling or because they saw themselves in those words.
That’s the thing with writing. It’s never truly complete until the reader has his or her moment in the sun. And due to the very nature of readership, we really don’t know exactly who these words will resonate the most with. Will it be the kid, depressed, as he passes through adolescence feeling alone? Will it be the mother of two, finding the hint of respite from her kids and diving into a novel? What about the old man whose wife of fifty years just passed last week? We just don’t know.
But there’s a beauty in that as well. Each of those people could read the same book and get something totally different from it. Their life experiences are different, but at the same time, similar. The same words appear on the page, yet the meanings differ so much. The inferences change. Everything from the tone of the book to the emotions it drags up are never the same.
I’m reminded of Frank Herbert’s Dune. For those of you who haven’t read it yet—and I highly, highly, recommend it—Dune is a novel about politics, destiny, political and socio-economic change, and environmental concerns tied all up in one book. Not very descriptive is it? Probably because I can’t describe it. And that’s because every time—and I do mean EVERY time—I’ve read it, something new comes to the forefront. It’s a totally different novel. And I’ve been reading it since I was about 15 years old—about 16 years ago. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve thumbed those pages.
But the book changes because I’ve changed. My life is different each time, so the words pull at me in different directions. As it does for the adolescent, the mother, or the old man. Our words affect others, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. In a way, as writers, that’s our job.
To make others feel.