Many people find writing to be therapeutic. I am one of them. One key difference for me is I rarely put things down on paper to never be read again. The majority of what I write is posted publicly.
This blog is sixth website I’ve had since 1996.A friend told me a couple of weeks ago she believes writing “may be a integral part of who you are. You need a voice and, pardon my voice, ‘screw them’ if they don’t like what you have written, write anyway…..Keep writing dear friend.”
She’s not wrong. I find the written word, whether it’s typing or hand-written, to calm my inner rage as well as show others the world I see. I figure, some time in the future after I’ve reached my one hundredth birthday, I’ll be found dead, pen in hand, and scribblings of an unfinished thought in a notebook.
What I have also found over the past two decades of writing is that, while I always write for myself, other people enjoy reading what I write, regardless of the topic. Before I worked at the Star-Herald, I wrote about security and privacy issues and atheism. I still read about those things, but haven’t written about them in a long time.
While working at the Star-Herald, my editors, Steve Frederick and Bart Schaneman, allowed me to have a column. I began writing the column for Sunday’s paper. When Bart was promoted from assistant to managing editor, he pulled me into his office. Naturally, I thought I had done something wrong. He said my column was no longer going to run on Sundays. “You’re too good to be buried in Lifestyles,” he said to me. I almost cried, but, at that time, I was too cool to cry in front of other people. It was the first solid confirmation I was actually good at this writing thing.
While my doubts will never go away, my friend was right. I can’t not write. It is a part of me. I’m always thinking of the next thing to write, the right word choice, or how to get my point across. It is a fundamental part of who I am.
I don’t hesitate to post stories about my struggles and successes with my mental health as well as my super crappy poetry. I do take great pause with other topics because I don’t want to come across as crass or uncaring. Ultimately, this is my space to write. I pay for everything myself. I’m not beholden to others to keep it running. It’s an extension of me.
I was discussing this with a friend, particularly the fact that I don’t post my thoughts about atheism. I honestly think organizations such as the Freedom from Religion Foundation and people like Jerry Coyne, Hemant Mehta, Aron Ra, and others are better equipped for arguments concerning science and atheism. I need time to think and formulate my responses, which is a terrible skill for debating.
I am also past the militant atheism stage. I still get angry when I read stories about the horrible things religion does, but I don’t have an outlet for that anger anymore, so I wrote things privately. This is going to change. I will be writing things occasionally here, but more to educate than point fingers and, hopefully, reasoned.
I’m not going to write things that piss me off so much I want to punch my computer screen. Those kind of articles just make you look like an angry loon. Those items will continue to be part of my personal, unconventional coping mechanism to keep me sane.
On my computer, I have a folder for writing. In that folder is a series of other folders with pictures. They’re named politics, religion, women, abortion, coronavirus, etc. The pictures and memes within these folders are self-explanatory. Whenever I come across one that makes me angry, laugh, or think, I save the picture and move on with my day.
I also have many files within this writing folder. These files are named things like, Our garbage president, abortion, how women are treated, racism, privacy, security, animal extinction, voter suppression, and others. Whenever I come across a story online that makes me angry, I cut and paste the link into the appropriate file, sometimes while cursing, and then save and close the file.
As odd as it sounds, this helps calm my anger. Maybe one day I’ll write about the topics. More than likely I won’t. It’s a weird coping mechanism to have, but it works. It keeps me from staying at a fifty-seven on a ten-point scale of anger. The mere act of ctrl-c and ctrl-v help me to let go of whatever made me angry.
I also have a folder called “Ideas for future stories.” In this folder is a list of fun, amusing, and/or sad stories I plan to write and share. They include the list in the photo at the top of this post.
I have other ideas as well, such as writing about cool humans throughout history. I won’t commit to a timeline for that because I learned my lesson in March with writing about inspiring women. I can’t do one story a day anymore without becoming utterly exhausted. Each of those articles took me four to six hours to research, write, edit, and post. While they were well-received, they were overwhelming. So, I will write about cool humans when I can and hopefully people will enjoy them.
I intend to make at least one post a week. I would like to do more, but, as my therapist likes to remind of often, I need to set realistic goals.
My most requested stories are 1) how I became an atheist and 2) the speeding ticket story. I will probably start with those. I will continue to write about my mental health journey and those will continue to be my main focus here.
Look for some cool things here soon.