A post about posting (or not)

July 14, 2015

Yesterday I had something to do that I was to some extent dreading and which did turn out to be difficult to do.  But I got through it, it wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t great.  On my way home, alone again in my car, I got to thinking about how I could write a blog post about it.  And I realized, as I was observing what I was doing, that that line of thinking was leading me to, to borrow a contemporary colloquial phrase, make it (the episode) a thing — to make it a thing instead of just letting it go.  I had anticipated the episode, I had engaged in it, I like to think that I had done something reasonable during the course of it, then it was over, and while I wasn’t all that happy from the experience, I didn’t really need to assess it, I could just let it be — just let it “have been” — in fact, it was probably better all around to just leave it as something that had occurred, like paint drying.  It had happened, but I didn’t need to reify it.

That got me wondering what impact writing more generally has on how people process their experiences and think about the world.  I know I never wanted to write the book about our experiences building a family that many people suggested I write.  That reaction came to me as a matter of not wanting to relive all those events.  Now my sense is that writing requires me to choose a particular way to present the material, that a particular voice be chosen and that the events be characterized and assessed to some degree and assigned some kind of significance — I don’t think most books are just flat recitation of what happened.

I don’t doubt that some people, perhaps even as a result of writing about them in a certain way, move on from events in their lives after writing about them, but it really hit me yesterday that the process of processing the events in order to write about them was going to impede me from just accepting them as things that had happened, that really did not need to be assigned greater significance than that, and that writing about them would turn them into permanent artifacts of a certain sort in my memories, like bringing home unwanted bargains from a yard sale.  To present the events might lead to positive reactions from others — the material certainly would lend itself to making something dramatic out of it — but I think it would actually result in trading a healthier frame of mind for some more immediate positive external feedback.  I don’t want to file the events away under particular emotional headings, I would rather leave them more fluid and let the memories give me different or more attenuated impressions over time, if that’s what happens.

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