Poetry and personal blog – Spilling my guts to strangers

This Is Not a Diary

One of the nice things about my blogging experience is that I am learning about other people through their blogs and on Twitter. A lot is said about the craft of writing and the nature of the writer. The question often comes up: Why do writers write?

Probably the most common answer to that question is, “Because the writer is compelled to write,” or some such notion. The other one is, “To express thoughts, ideas, emotions,  yada, yada.”

Yeah, yeah.

It’s not that I disagree with those answers, but I think maybe the answer is simpler and more basic. I think we write because we need others to hear, understand, and accept what we have to say. There’s nothing wrong with that, but for some reason, I don’t hear too many people expressing this idea.

I mean, if a person is driven only by some inner compulsion to write, then she’ll keep a diary. Maybe its a notebook that has a little lock on it or it remains hidden in the dresser drawer underneath her unmentionables. That’s how I started out, writing secret thoughts and poems about my pimply, hormone-driven life.

But it didn’t take long before I offered up a page or two and asked someone, under tightly controlled conditions, “Read this and tell me what you think.” Soon after, I got the notion that I wanted to be a writer, which as I saw it, meant that I would write stuff intended for others to read.

So here I am, writing about my hot flashing, hormone-driven life and sharing it with you.

There’s nothing wrong with being Emily Dickinson-like, keeping a diary or writing poetry that you don’t particularly want anyone to read. Maybe there are some who use their blog as they would a folder on their computer hard drive, and they don’t give a hoot whether anyone every reads it.

But I strongly suspect that most of us want other people to read us, even if only our loved ones and friends. There’s too many of us on Twitter, myself included, for me to think otherwise. We’re saying, “Read my poem, look at my blog post, buy my book (self-published or otherwise), and here is what I’m having for lunch. Pay attention to me.”

Remember the movie “Network” with the crazed Peter Finch leading the mantra ,”I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more?” I think our mantra is, ” I have something to say and I want to be heard.”


© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2010.


Comments on: "This Is Not a Diary" (24)

  1. Oh you know I want to be heard, and I want to hear what others say too. I think it takes some nads and ego to put yourself and your writing out there to let people into your life in that way and see how your mind is working. It can feel isolating. It can feel connecting. But it makes you feel!

    Love that you are sharing here, Sweepy. I froth at the mouth for your posts. So I picked the lock and am looking at your pages. Thank you!

    • You really hit the nail on the head, Lady, about the feeling of isolation and connection. I’ve been thinking for weeks about writing about it but keep pushing it to the side. Putting myself out there has been one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, but it’s been well worth it. Feeling is so much better that walking through life numb.

      I’m so honored by your kind words.

  2. Yes. I admit it. I want to be heard. I need to be heard, but not necessarily understood. As a memoirist, I desire to show the world the real me. Take it or leave it.

    I’ve been writing about myself for years…decades (2 exactly) and when I read Augusten Burroughs and Tucker Max (the disgusting young man) I came to an wonderful realization. There is beauty in all personalities AND within their faults. There’s a powerful liberating effect in conveying my entire self, saying THIS IS ME.

    So, not only do I write to be heard, I write to share my experiences and myself.

    • Hi, Lonna; well said! Writing is so empowering, especially when you don’t compromise who you are. I, too, believe that our imperfections are what make us human, and we should at least accept and be honest about them. Becasue we are imperfect, maybe striving toward an ideal–and not necessarily a religious ideal–is our purpose in life?

  3. I think everyone wants to be heard, writers more than most. To me the idea of writing is nothing less than my contribution to the world. (Lofty I know, but hey that’s my deal)That being said, most of what I write, is written to help me discover what it is that I want to say.
    Blogging is very useful in this regard, the daily practice, networking, etc. As a poet, fiction writer on a self imposed sabbatical, it’s a blast to just write about something of interest to me without worrying about literary merit (not that I don’t care about quality writing.)
    We all write for ourselves, certainly, but I’m distrustful of people who stop there. Why would you tell me about it if it’s not worth reading? And also, If it’s Quality writing why wouldn’t you tell everyone about it?
    I find that often false humility is just someone thinking, “I’m nervous or not very good.” I want Everyone to read what I write. So in short, I write because there is something in my head that I want to give you, and writing is the only way I get closer to finding what that is.

    • I know what you mean. The process of writing, editing and rewriting helps clarify thoughts better than talking does. As for literary merit, I’ll let others determine whether mine has any. There was a time when I was overly concerned about that and it was creatively paralyzing. Meaning and message is everything now. Even if it’s just “Have a nice day”; the message doesn’t have to be deep as long as people get it.

      So maybe Brent the poet will come out of retirement one day? If so, maybe you’ll share it with us … no pressure! 🙂

      • Thanks for the vote Sweepyjean! I’m sure he will, but only when he finds what it is that’s on his mind! If you’d like to check out some of my old stuff, go here:
        I reprinted some of my published poems there. Also you can click on the postcards (links on the left) and find a poem for each one.
        Keep in mind I don’t have the e-mail address on that site anymore. It’s only up because I don’t know how to take it down.

  4. You are right in this, we all want to be heard whether we admit it or not. As for me, when I write it makes me feel good, so it is a selfish act and it turned out that some people can relate to what I am saying in my place and you know, I love it. I love getting mails or comments when someone says “you get me better than anyone else”. Because for once I feel that when I write it makes sense to people, they like it and they want to keep reading and it creates such a great feeling in me that I want to write more and more.

    In a way it is a selfish act which is bound to make me feel good, but as long as it does not hurt anyone, it’s a good thing, isn’t it? 🙂

    • Lol! It’s definitely a good thing, especially when it makes you feel good and others benefit and feel connected as well. There nothing like positive feedback to make you want to do more. Thanks for your comments, Lena!

  5. Great post. I love how you throw that mantra out there, because I think you’re right. If we weren’t writing to be heard, we’d keep all this safely in our journals.

    But, there’s something more to it than that for me. I think it’s the connection in being heard and having the listener (or reader) relate in such a way that whatever it is we just said is suddenly validated.

    But maybe being heard and being validated are the same thing. Either way, I feel good when I write, even more so when someone else reads it.

    • Hi, Christi, thanks for commenting! I agree: For me, the validation is important, having others “hear, understand, and accept” what I have to say. For some, like Lonna above, the validation is not an issue. The relationship between the writer and reader certainly is an interesting one.

  6. Thank you for visiting my blog! I think it’s neat that you’re using this blog space to explore that intersection of the act of writing (private) with its possible goal (public, involving readership). Great-looking blog, and keep up the great writing!

  7. I write often to help me get clear in my mind. I find it really does help me resolve issues, let things go and inspire. Sometimes I think about what I’m writing and sometimes it just comes in a big ‘whoosh’ and I’m just letting it flow through me. And I share what I write in the hope that it might do some good, help inspire someone or reassure them. I also love the idea that blogging is individual people creating worlds rather than top-down media companies. I really love that aspect.

  8. Hi– really enjoyed your post, have started a blog as genre group on she writes, as well as a blog here, using same template; we chose the nicest one…

    I’m at http://www.loquaciouslyyours.com — see what you think, link exchange a strong possibility at this end. x j

    • Thank you so much for visiting and for your kinds words. I took the opportunity to visit your site and I like your blog as well. I would be happy to exchange links. Yours is already up.

  9. Jean, reading your words I feel I have found a kindred spirit. We do write to be heard. To be noticed. To make a connection. Inspiration comes from many places, and you inspire me to continue writing what I write in the way that I want to write it. I look forward to continuing to read your blog.

    • Thank you so much, Kelly; I’m honored by your words. I visited your blog and I liked what I saw. Continue on the path of being true to yourself/ I think we all owe at least that much to ourselves.

  10. Hello, Jean
    Love your blog– I am just beginning to discover my passion for writing…It was always there, only now (with blogging) I have a way to be heard– and it does make all the difference!


    My link is http://ispeakmetaphor.blogspot.com/
    if you would like to exchange…I will add yours as well:)

    • Thanks so much, Michelle! With this technology, we can all be published authors saying exactly what we want to say on our own terms. That’s pretty heady!

      I would love to exchange links with you, I’ve already added yours. All the best!

  11. […] is 80% of the reward for me, I want to share what I write with others, as I talked about in a previous post. I also want to put out a good product and reach as many people as possible. The to-do list is […]

  12. […] a previous post, I outlined why I write. There are some who don’t mind if no one ever reads what they put down and then there are […]

  13. […] poetry to be able to stand on its own regardless of anything that has to do with my personal life. Poetry is not simply an emotional outlet for me, although it is that. As a poet who wants to be heard, I want the reader to either share in the […]

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