Poetry in the trash

A few years ago, my mother went through the effects of her cousin after she died. It turns out Thelma Jane wrote poetry. Nobody knew. It wound up in the trash.

Thelma lived alone. Her husband had died in his 40s. They had no children. Her mother, my great-aunt Bess, lived to 102 and took her first motorcycle ride at 100. My mom had to go through Thelma’s stuff and Aunt Bess’ stuff, most of which Thelma still had. I now have some of the leftovers. But nobody wanted the poetry. So it’s gone.

This brings me to the question this article explores: why write?

#100daystooffload #whywrite #poetry

Thelma’s poetry is gone. Even names carved on tombstones crumble with time. If your writing is very good (see, e.g., Virgil and Cicero) and you’re lucky (see scribes in Celtic monasteries) your scribblings on paper, velum or in cyberspace might last the centuries and inspire other writers (see Dante).
I’ve been journaling (on paper) for a month or so. I find the process quite creative and even cathartic. And there is something freeing about being able to scribble, erase, underline, circle, draw arrows from one idea to the next, and in processing information a non-linear fashion. Unexpected connections can be made. I’m a huge fan of emacs org mode (this blog post is being written in org mode exported using ox-hugo to export a hugo static web site hosted on Github pages, but even using the best of digital writing tools, there is something not quite as free about it. There is something mentally relaxing about writing on paper (and going for long walks).
You learn by doing. The process of writing (can) help you organize thoughts. You often have to research things. Putting ideas out there opens you up to criticism. You have to defend or modify your position. It can be a starting point for conversation.
Social Connections?
See Facebook, Twitter, et al. For all their downsides, there is no denying that writing, even the at the banal and everyday level of much of “social media” generates connections. I prefer to think it will allow me to maintain meaningful connections to people who are important to me in life, but my writing may not, in fact, be that noble.
Pride? Vanity? Self-importance? Self-absorption? These are all possibilities.
Professional Reasons?
I sometimes write on professional topics, see Bears Attacks and Cybersecurity and Reproducable Security Analytics. A mix of the same motivations is often in play.
To kill time?
In this busy world we don’t often feel that we have time to kill. We don’t sit on our front porch watching the world go by (and, in fact, it’s been a hundred years or so since the front porch featured prominently in residential architecture, at least in the USA.), and even Baseball, the “national pass-time” is looking for ways to speed up the game for a public that has lost patience. Maybe we need to slow down and focus on important things, or just enjoyable things. Writing may be one of those things.
A habit?
For some people, writing is a habit. I think that may be one of the goals of the #100DaysToOffload concept. I’m going to give it a try. Thanks Kev Quirk

I’ll never know why Thelma Jane wrote her poetry. I’m still trying to figure out why I write. Maybe it’s one of the reasons discussed above. Maybe it’s all of them.