Writing as Catharsis

Many times I don’t know how I feel until I write about it.

Right now, of course, my mom is in the hospital. She is elderly, in ill health and tired. Part of me wants to see her go to her rest, part of me doesn’t. But of course what happens is not up to me. I only have control over my attitude and how I deal with her caregivers: the spectacular hero-nurses and aides, her excellent, compassionate doctors.

But the family, all long-distance, wants frequent updates on her condition, and understandably so. I would, if she were going through this elsewhere.  Last night I was talking with my niece, who is making arrangements to come visit (the family is beginning to gather). I laid out Mom’s situation, and surprised us both with how articulate I was about her history, her current status and her prognosis. And as articulate as I was last night, I was just as tongue-tied earlier that day while trying to bring my brother up to speed. The difference? Between the two conversations, I had written it all out in a daily email to one of my dearest friends.

Writing helps writers organize our thoughts in a way nothing else will. Not meditation, not prayer, not crying over a cup of coffee with a girlfriend. We were born to write; that is our method of communication. When I write my daily email (more than daily this week) to my friend Maggie, I edit and delete and rephrase, and become precise with what I have to say and how I have to say it.

If there were no Maggie on the receiving end, knowing what I know now, I would continue to write these events and my emotional reactions to them in an email to myself.

I’ve never been one to keep a journal. I’ve always thought of those who journal as people who don’t normally write. I’m a writer; my life is reflected in the fiction and nonfiction that I write every day.  But now I am starting to understand the value of writing my thoughts down. It helps me organize them, sort them out, determine what is important and what is petty. (I’m not above being petty, and in fact I don’t mind being petty, but if I’m going to engage in pettiness, I want to do it consciously. But that’s a blog for another day.)

Anyway, the purpose of all this is to say that I’m finding great value in writing these confusing, conflicting, emotional thoughts down and editing them into a purposeful missive. It keeps me honest.

And that’s worth a lot.

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2 Comments

Filed under Journaling, Writing

2 responses to “Writing as Catharsis

  1. Cap'n Crusty

    Well said.

    And I might add, writing can also be an escape–for many of us, I think. When one is young, and at the bleak mercy of others, writing allows a certain level of control over at least one element of personal existence, limited only by the imagination and whatever code of ethics the scribbler may come to develop. If so minded, one can lock swords with eldrich daemons and overcome, deal paraphenomenal defeat to a sociopathic wizard, or even banish Paris Hilton to some dark netherworld.

    Okay; that last one probably isn’t so difficult. But you take my meaning.

  2. Pingback: Not a Waste, After All « Words at Play

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