Mary Pipher is one of my favorite authors and a definite role model, although I have never met her. I read her book "Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls" when I was an adolescent girl myself, and remember being amazed that she seemed to "get me" more than I had ever managed to "get me" at the time. When I decided to major in psychology in college, I read "Reviving Ophelia" for a second time as an assignment, and then moved on to some of her other books, just for fun. While in graduate school, I must have read her book, "Letters to a Young Therapist" three times to help me make it through, and each time, I found exactly the motivation and inspiration I needed. She is a psychologist, and also a writer, and her books always remind me that I am called to do both. To be both. Writing is as essential for me as water, and "getting published" has been my goal for as long as I can remember.
On a whim, I actually wrote a letter to Dr. Pipher last year. I'm not entirely sure what prompted it, and I'm not entirely sure what I said anymore (although I'm pretty sure I have it saved somewhere). What's important was that (a) this was the first time I wrote to someone out of sheer admiration and respect and (b) she wrote me back. I'm not sure of everything she said (although I know I have it saved), but I know that she told me that I should be writing and publishing. Ummmmm....OMG! Even a year later, it makes my heart dance. One day. It's going to happen.
At any rate, I opened up my copy of Mary Pipher's "Writing to Change the World" this evening, as I found myself (yet again) short on inspiration, and remembered that there are some prompts somewhere in the book. However, as typically happens when I open a book, I was sucked into reading, scanning what I had underlined, reading my notes in the margins, and generally swept deep between the covers. At the end, I was surprised to find that she had a section on blogs. She ends the short section like this:
Blogs are conversation cafes and technological speakers' corners. They offer people of the world voices in a great dialogue that could build communities... They are tangible manifestations of the central fact of the universe: Everything is connected.
Blogs offer us zero degrees of separation from people anywhere and everywhere. We can "hear" the voices of ordinary citizens reporting their stories. With blogs, we can build I-thou relationships with people very different from ourselves. Over time, blogs will continue to connect us, teach us empathy, and perhaps even save us from ourselves. (Writing to Change the World, p. 205)
I am not deluded into thinking that by pressing "publish" on a post, that many people read my blog. I can see the stats. I also don't need many people to read my humble ramblings right now. I'm not in this to win friends or readership or recognition. I write because I need to write. Because, in my heart, I am a writer. I write because I have stories that need to be told. I write, because I love to read and feel that connection with something and someone I have never experienced or met. I write because I want to connect with the world, and this is one of the ways I know how.
I'm intrigued by her last line: "blogs will continue to connect us, teach us empathy, and perhaps even save us from ourselves." When I write, my heart and soul are bared. I can't hide it. If I am going to write it, it is going to be genuine. I don't know how to write any other way. Even when life was extraordinarily rough, writing is part of what got me through. From the time I was 9 years old, writing has saved me from myself again, and again, and again.
However, in spite of knowing the importance of writing for me personally, I routinely question myself and ask, "what's the point?" I have folders and flash drives and binders full of writing and poetry. I have an entire box overflowing with journals I've kept since elementary school. I make commitments to write every day, and my heart and fingers are happy to be writing, and still I ask: "what's the point?"
I know what the point is. I always know. The point is writing. The point is the words, and the joy of the words, and the way they dance and skip around in my brain and tickle my fingers as they try to make it out onto the page. The point is the connection. The connection of brain to fingertips, of pencil to paper, of head to heart, of my heart to your eyes and ears. The point is the connection of my heart to yours. The point of writing -- of my writing -- is for me to know, and for you to know, that we're all not alone. That this world is an amazing, beautiful, painful, terrible, and ridiculous place, and we are all in this thing called life together. My writing may speak to someone today, or tomorrow, or never, but at least I know I tried. I put my heart on the line and left pieces of it for someone to find, just because we're both alive. Need there be another reason?
My writing is not going to change the world, but maybe it will connect us. Maybe it will spark a moment of empathy. Maybe it will change a thought, or a moment, or a choice, and maybe -- maybe -- that is change enough.