The Writer in Me

by Patty Blake on Thu, 2014-03-06 09:32

Patty Blake

In my last post, I spoke about the frustration of being misunderstood. My need to make myself clear — to communicate effectively — is great. I have always felt that I was better at expressing myself in writing rather than speaking. Well, maybe not better, but more precise.

I launched this blog about a year-and-half ago just before I was officially diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — ALS — or Lou Gehrig’s disease as it is commonly known. Several friends have asked if I have done much writing before this. I hear comments such as, “I never knew you were a writer!” When I hear this I am flattered. I have been given the title “writer.” It is quite an honor!

When you think about it, though, all of us are writers. Really! If you have ever written a personal note, or written a letter of complaint, opinion or thanks, you are a writer.

Years ago, before the Internet and before cell phones and texting, everyone wrote letters. I loved writing and receiving letters. There were several friends and family members I corresponded with on a regular basis. I remember, as I sat down to write a letter, sometimes jotting down a few notes on a scrap of paper with topics I wanted to be sure to include. Most of my letters were rather lengthy, I’m afraid. And sometimes they were illustrated by small drawings in the margins.

The best part about exchanging letters was receiving one in the mail. Whether it was from my high school friend studying abroad in Germany or from my brother in the Air Force stationed in the Philippines, the arrival of a letter addressed to me was such a treat. That envelope and the paper inside came directly from the sender. This was their handwriting.

In school, I know I complained as much as anyone when we had to write papers. Shorter essays, however, didn’t seem to bother me. In fact, I enjoyed writing those most of the time.

Marriage and children became the focus of my life beginning at age 21. I still wrote letters, of course. And I did of bit of journaling from time to time.

I was employed for a while at the church we attended. Occasionally, my job required that I write a paragraph or two, or perhaps even a short article. I received some praise for these, which encouraged me to continue writing.

About 20 years ago or so, a flier arrived in the mail about extension courses offered at the nearby university, including one for aspiring writers. I signed up and enjoyed the class very much. I wrote several essay-type pieces. Bravely, I submitted one of them to a magazine. It was rejected, of course.

The arrival of the Internet brought about new ways of communicating. Most emails are pretty short, but mine can be epic. When my ALS symptoms became troublesome (before the diagnosis), I found myself writing several different people regularly concerning the diagnostic process. I was repeating myself, yet trying to make each email personal. I had considered the idea of a blog from time to time. At this point, it seemed appropriate that I create a way to share information as well as my emotions and thoughts. My blog was born.

Writing this blog is very therapeutic for me. It gives expression to the myriad feelings and thoughts and fears that fill my mind these days. It gives me a forum to share my faith. It provides a way for me to share information about raising ALS awareness and to describe what it’s like to live with this disease.

In the words of Paulo Coelho, “Tears are words that need to be written.” 

Interestingly, I have been feeling a need to write more frequently of late. Nobody panic! I don’t think the end is near just yet. Though my symptoms are clearly progressing, I feel fine most of the time. I guess being so idle makes me anxious to do something.

So, I write. To answer the question, “Have you always enjoyed writing?”… YES!

And as Maya Angelou writes, “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” 

Thank you for listening to my song.

This blog was posted originally on Feb. 21, 2014.

About the Author

Hi. I’m Patty, and I’m a wife and mom to two grown daughters, and I'm in my 50s, dealing with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, or motor neuron disease). This blog is my journey through uncharted waters. People ask me constantly how I’m doing. The short answer is “OK.” I add “so far” in my head most times. So that’s what I’m calling this little corner of the interwebz, OK, So Far. So if you’re up for it, come along on this roller coaster ride known as my life. I can’t promise much in the way of entertainment, but I’ll try not to be too boring! Thanks for stopping by.

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