Or, Should I hang my demons out for show?

Like a lot of people who enjoy writing, I use it to face my demons. If I have had an especially bad experience—or a happy one for that matter—or if I face a difficult problem in my life, I like to write it down.

That writing is not for publication. Oh no!

That writing is for me. It is cathartic. It helps me exorcise my demons. It helps me think about how to solve the problem, or get over the experience.

Instead of lying awake at night, running through how things might have been, or what they were, or what should have been different, I write it all down. Sometimes that means sitting in front of a computer keyboard at three in the morning. Sometimes it means putting my paid employment to one side, and just setting it down on paper (or phosphor, perhaps).

I know that I cannot begin to think straight about normal things—or find rest in sleep—until I have written this idea, or that memory down. The idea is jumping up and down at the front of my mind, screaming for attention, blocking out every other thought or idea. The only way to shut it up and get on with life—for me—is to get it out into the open by writing it down, and in the process, resolve some of the conflicts and pain that made it so insistent. Once written, the thought calms down a bit, and I can return to some kind of normal life once more.

The question arises: what to do with this piece of text? Let it rest quietly in peace as a few magnetic domains on a hard drive, or send it out into the great wide world to seek fame and fortune?

All too often, I decide to send it on its way, without thinking carefully about re-writing it, editing it, and taking out the really crass angsty bits. Once or twice when I’ve done that, it has worked, and I’ve been able go back to the same piece after a few months when all the demons are dead and buried, and congratulate myself on a fine piece of writing. But not often. Sometimes my haste and my pain gets the better of me, and I send a raw, emotional piece out into the world, where it gets beaten up and insulted for the angst-filled, self-centred crap that it is.

Yes, there are daylogs here which are filled with as much angst and self-centred crap as I could generate in a lifetime, but that isn’t really the point.

I’m trying to say that there’s writing for catharsis, which is (I think) what pretty well everyone who enjoys writing does, and there’s writing for an audience, which is completely different. People do both, but they shouldn’t confuse the two.

I just thought it ought to be said, that’s all.

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