I love the rare occasions in my life when I get to think and filter out all the crap that seems to bombard me from all angles, day in, day out. There are the endless emails attempting to sell me things I don’t want or need, the multitasking that’s required to manage the lives of my daughters and me, and the shopping, cleaning and dog-walking. There are the efforts to keep up with the news, and the organisation of work and a social life. All of these things amount to a very busy schedule with few opportunities for peace and calm.
In the fast-paced existence of the modern world, it can be virtually impossible to find adequate space and time in which to put the brakes on, cogitate, assess and evaluate: to recover a precious few moments for processing the vast quantities of information that are entering our heads on a daily basis.
Writing has always helped me to achieve this goal – as a means of finding clarity and making decisions in my life, it’s unbeatable. When I initially stopped drinking, writing this blog became my soul support mechanism. I looked to my laptop as my friend and confidante, I poured out all of my thoughts and feelings surrounding alcohol and why I had drunk so much, how it had made me feel, and how I was coping with my new sober life. I opened up in my writing in a way I never could have done via speaking; blogging became a kind of semi-anonymous, safe, confessional obsession for me, a way to bare all emotionally and understand myself better. It seemed to fast track the process of acceptance with regards to my alcohol misuse and the switch to a happier, booze-free life.
George Orwell wrote in his 1946 essay, Why I Write, of the “pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story”. I love the way words fit together, and how we can select from such a sweeping, comprehensive vocabulary. We can form precise meaning by the words we use and the order we put them in. We can express ourselves and record our experiences through writing. And we can share ideas and thoughts openly with countless other people, most of whom we have never met.
This last point is a powerful phenomenon to me – the notion that we can communicate honestly and without barriers with people from all over the world who might be looking for reassurance, confirmation that they are not alone in their particular struggles. How else can we achieve this other than through writing? The idea of Soberistas.com, a social network site for people with problematic drinking patterns, came about primarily because a) I had a booze problem and b) I loved writing. I recognised the restorative and therapeutic nature of blogging, and how it had helped me to work through my own drinking issues.
It doesn’t matter whether a person is a brilliant wordsmith or not. To me, the best blogs are the ones that evoke honesty and that other people can relate to. It’s the bridging of multiple minds brought about by the words of one that is behind my love of writing. When I read through the blogs on Soberistas, I see that other people are similarly seeking to resolve their various problems with alcohol by writing about them. A community of people brought together through a shared struggle and a compulsion to express and pool their thoughts. This formula works, in that writing on a public forum appears, for many, to be an effective method of eliminating the negativity that stems from a long time spent drinking too much.
For me, it’s the perfect storm.