On Writing and Intimacy

Writing a blog is a bit confusing.

It’s sort of a cross between keeping a private journal—a memoir—yet knowing that someone else will be reading your intimate thoughts.

That makes my journey toward authenticity somewhat muddled.

On the one hand, I crave honesty and truth, and when I began the blog in 2010, I promised myself I would avoid hyperbole and little white lies.

On the other hand, I hold back on writing publicly about intimacy for fear of judgment.

When I read Joan Didion’s book, The Year of Magical Thinking, I was moved by her ability to speak from the heart. Although some parts of the book—a book about coping with her husband’s death and her ensuing grief—stray into journalistic treatises that focus on the head rather than the heart, the writing nevertheless reads like a private journal.

And it is the feeling of privacy that gives writing its appeal.

I know because when I reveal my most private moments I glean comments from my readers.

While I typically try to discuss on the blog my encounters with science and American Indian ways-of-knowing, sometimes I depart and think aloud about issues that are tugging at me.

Today I was wondering whether we keep an internal vessel filled with angst.

Seems my life has been brightened by recent events and relationships, and I am more hopeful. More mature. Happier.

But I find detritus to fill the vessel. In the midst of warm companionship and the promises of tomorrows, the vessel continues to brim to the top. I continue to fill the angst vessel.

Does happiness need to be leavened by a degree of sorrow? Despair?

Instead I think I will imagine the vessel itself is becoming smaller.


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
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4 Responses to On Writing and Intimacy

  1. I find it difficult for myself to blog because of that confusion you stated in the beginning. This is why I have Just started blogging recently. It’s hard for me to throw caution to the wind and hit publish knowing my thoughts are out for general consumption, yet when I’m the most open or creative I get the biggest response. It’s a conundrum.

    Regarding your question, maybe we need the sorrow and sadness to help us realize how great happiness is. If there was no sadness, there would be no happiness, we would just be.


  2. Joe Pineda says:

    I think the act of writing in and of itself destroys the concept of privacy; after all, through the written word you might be sharing thoughts and ideas that you never would have expressed otherwise, perhaps out of fear of rejection or judgment.


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