The Privacy of Writing

My friend, Bernie, organises, (or used to organise) a writing club. People writing a blog post or any other text would gather around a table to write.

During NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) the community managers organised meet ups for people to meet up and… you got it: write.

Once a week writer and podcaster Rachael Herron organises her Rachael Says Write sessions, where writers meet up in an online video meeting for two hours, check in at the beginning and end of the session, and write throughout, with their camera on, feeling supported by those around them.

I’ve never attended any of these kind of sessions. As well as the purely practical issue of wanting to write as comfortably as possible in a place where the light is right, the temperature is right, and the desk light is right, for me writing is a private matter. I need to be able to be on my own, even if I have people around me, like in a café or at home. Even feeling connected to others online would feel too intrusive. It’s a solitary activity and feeling alone with writing is part of the enjoyment.

Funny that, because I don’t keep a diary, never have.

Well, for a few months I did, when I was 13 or 14. I had a notebook with bright pink pages, and square grids on them. I used to write down the interesting things that happened during the day. I can still picture the bright green characters against the soft pink, with a Hello Kitty at the bottom of each page.

And when I say characters, that’s what I mean, not letters of the Roman alphabet. Characters from a coded language only I understood. Such was the level of privacy I wanted for my diary.

That lasted only a few months, and since then most of my writing is aimed for the public eye.

But writing is still a private matter. Extremely sometimes. 

I’m at the café I use on Saturdays to read and reflect. (My self-indulgent time when I read any kind of self-help book I fancy with the sole aim of enjoying it and aspiring to some higher creative-self.) Only today, it’s Thursday, so I set the time for something more practical i.e. writing this post.

The front of the café was full, so I went further into an area tucked away in a corner. The waitress said, “The usual?” (Yes, I go there often!) to which I offered my biggest smile.

I took out my reMarkable (a device where you can handwrite on e-paper), I scanned through my ideas for blog posts, picked one (not this one!), created the document to write in and… Put the device on standby.

I knew the waitress would come back with a coffee any moment, and I didn’t want her to see me writing. Not that she would be at all interested in anything I was writing, nor that she’d be able to decipher my writing. But I didn’t want a stranger to see me writing. So I took out my Kindle to read while I waited for my coffee.

That’s when I realised: the act of writing is for me, even if my writing isn’t.

It’s not that I’m ashamed of my first draft or care about what people think of me when they see me writing. But it’s something I do when I am, psychologically at least, on my own.

And that is as far as my reflections go today.

Now to tackle the original idea I picked from a list of potential posts: the challenges of animating a daisy. And not just any daisy, a Happy Daisy.

(Or I might go back to the self help book instead…)

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