On Writing and Bleeding

So many writers seem to publish articles when they have a tidy moral lesson to share. Or perhaps they have a new spiritual insight born from the foibles of everyday living. Then there are those who have to contrive together passionate words or feigned offenses in order to meet a contracted deadline. And that’s fine for some I suppose. But the former groups are ones that leave me dry if the purpose of writing is supposed to have as its end, something uplifting or at least satisfying to impart to readers.

I reject this as my end. There are hundreds of bits of writing advice out there— one helping to form the title of this blog in “Writing is simple; you just sit down at a typewriter and bleed” (Attributed to many). And that’s always guided me. Further, there is this little gem from a man with whom I profoundly disagree but find myself selectively quoting time and again: “Whoever writes in blood and aphorisms does not want to be read but to be learned by heart.” —Nietzsche

And isn’t that yummy?! Yet it’s still incomplete. I don’t write for the goal of being understood by others as my end either. There is something nearly impersonal about opening your veins. The one who donates blood knows that his gift will be utilized by someone somewhere. He is not concerned about being understood as a person. While I don’t approach writing in quite so sterile a manner, I do recognize that even as I “write hard and clear about what hurts” (Hemingway), it doesn’t really feel to be much about me. It simply feels as something I must do. Sometimes it’s public, more is private, but rarely am I left with hard conclusions that I would like to be understood about me or about life. I usually have more questions than anything else.

Maybe someday, I’ll write my whole story; it’s interesting if nothing else. And maybe someday I’ll  manage to write something profound and brilliant, offering new insights into this human journey. Today, I only offer these anemic statements:

  • My life is really challenging right now.
  • The stress can be crippling.
  • I keep a brave face for the most part, and say “Fine” when asked how I’m doing. (Folks tire of reality.)
  • But I do cry readily and often to a select few.
  • I beg God to take this cross from me.
  • I steel my nerves for battles that I have to face on many domains right now.
  • I am very disorganized because my executive functioning skills (normally my strength!) are suffering from me simply putting out fires day in and day out in the frenetic pace of life I live right now. This has been extraordinarily trying; I miss order… survival gets old.
  • I make inappropriate jokes about stabbing and death in a light, cavalier way that sometimes gets me concerned looks from others. Don’t be alarmed, it’s just me.
  • Representing yourself in court is exhausting.
  • Lawyers can be rogues.
  • Grad school is exhausting.
  • Busy work assignments are infuriating.
  • Seven children is exhausting.
  • And I wish I could love them better and be more present now. But I am getting a life together to better love them and be more present to them in the long term. My absence and inattention and constant childcare crises are for them.
  • I have a number of other unstated issues fighting for mental real estate in my brain. [Insert something here about the art of balancing authenticity with discretion.]
  • My social life looks like this: ignoring or forgetting about a lot of texts, making some plans with people but cancelling more often than not… and just hoping there’ll be a few understanding friends left over at the end of this season.
  • I love and find meaning in what I do as a counselor.
  • I see a therapist. All therapists should see a therapist.
  • But I miss my kids. I miss being a homeschooling mom. I miss being consumed by picture books. I miss the slower pace of life.
  • Still,I kiss the floor each morning and whisper Serviam.

And see! Right here I feel a strange obligation to try and wrap this up with some positive or at least satisfying phrases. Can I let just a string of difficult bullet points sit there without feeling the need to boost my reader’s spirits?

Well, yes. I can. Sure, “God is good all the time.” And “This too shall pass.” Blah, blah, blah. Make no mistake— I know all about silver linings. I even know about silver floodings! They’re wonderful.

But today… today, that’s not what I’m writing about. Today, I don’t have answers, lessons, moralizing or insight to offer at this juncture.

Just a wee bit of hemoglobin on your screen.


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