I have a terrible secret. I have, under my bed, a stash of abandoned journals. They always start out so strong and hopeful, six pages filled with dreams and ideas, of fears and questions, of tiny epiphanies and huge sighs. And then, nothing. Blank pages. Silence.
The idea of writing for my self has never taken me very far. Something deep in me wants an audience. When I send off poetry or essays to literary journals, when I write in my private blog, when I labor on the novel I keep returning to – there’s the possibility of a reader (or maybe even a few). Is that egotistical? Maybe. It’s certainly fueled by ego. But it’s what gets my pencil moving (or fingers typing).
Maybe it’s the same for you?
Imagine a young woman, your descendant, 100 years from now, stumbling upon a dusty crate in the attic. The lock has broken over the years, and she lifts the creaking lid to discover… a diary – a diary you wrote during the outbreak of 2020.
What will she learn about you? About the way life was before the virus? About the changes that are taking place?
If, like me, journaling for your self has never been enough to motivate a daily commitment, maybe the thought of your grandchildren, great-grandchildren, historians or anthropologists eventually reading your words is just the kick you need. And, writing for others forces you to clarify things you might not feel the need to explain when you’re writing for your eyes only. Who is Uncle Andy? Should you describe the empty playground? Why are you happy you won’t see Janice at work for the next few weeks?
Some of you may take this idea and fly with it, but others might prefer to have someone reading their thoughts, not 100 years from now, but next week. For you, writing postcards may be just the thing. Postcrossing is a service that allows you to “send postcards and receive postcards back from random people around the world.” The service is safe and free (well, except for buying the cards and stamps, a wonderful way to help our struggling postal system).
Perfect for children, postcards aren’t so demanding. They have limited space, and once you finish writing one, you get to mail it off and imagine the recipient reading your words. How cool is that?
And, as luck would have it, it’s National Card and Letter Writing Month!
What do you write on a postcard to a stranger? Anything you want! You can keep with the diary/journal theme and tell them a little about what’s going on in your life right now, or you can send them a bit of kindness, a drawing of the flowers in your front garden or a promise that we’ll all get through this bleak time and emerge into something better. You can describe the town of Sharon or send your favorite recipe for zucchini bread. You can write a poem, or list your top five bands from 1973, or transcribe your favorite movie quote. Anything at all.
How far will your words travel? And whose words will come back to you?