Behind The Quill

“Remember What it Was to be me: That is Always The Point.”- Joan Didion

March 4, 2020

Since first watching Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold on Netflix…

I have watched it (too) many times and have sought out any book I could find of hers (bibliophile through and through over here)

I’ve mentioned it before in the last several months, but I feel compelled to talk about it every time I watch it. Because each time I do, it has such a profound effect on me. 

Her life, career, and the documentary created as a reflection of both are incredibly moving to me. Not for the fact that I see my own life and thoughts reflected in them because I oftentimes do not. It is not relatability that draws me to her or her story. 

But rather it is the way in which she gives power to words. The way in which she writes not only to connect her readers to her articles, essays, books, and plays but also (and maybe more importantly) to connect herself to the world around her (and within)

In other words, she speaks of writing to create understanding for things as they are within her own mind and heart. To see how she really thinks and feels about something, whether it is transpiring in her own life or within the world at large. 

“The point of my keeping a notebook has never been, nor is it now, to have an accurate factual record of what I have been doing or thinking. That would be a different impulse entirely, an instinct for reality which I sometimes envy but do not possess.” — JOAN DIDION, ON KEEPING A NOTEBOOK

It is this compulsion that draws me to Joan Didion.

The way she writes about things such as death, loss, morality, and connection from the perspective of a reporter, an observer seems to be not only a residue of her career as such, but also a mechanism through which she can write about things in a way that is very real and raw for not only the reader, but herself. 

She writes to come back to herself. To remind herself of her true thoughts and feelings, or maybe even to discover them for the first time. 

So, while her career as an award-winning reporter, essayist, and author and the loss she has endured in her life are foreign to me, the notion of coming back to who you are through writing resonates strongly with me and through me. 

Whenever I need a reminder of who I really am I pick up a book or a pen…for no one but me. Because it is what feels natural to me.

It does not always need to serve any other purpose.

If those writings, like many of Joan’s, are transformed into something with which I can inspire or educate others, I am thrilled. 

But, I must remember that “to be me, is always the point.”

And, that it’s ok to make room to do so. 

“…our notebooks give us away, for however dutifully we record what we see around us, the common denominator of all we see is always, transparently, shamelessly, the implacable ‘I.’” — JOAN DIDION, ON KEEPING A NOTEBOOK

As a business owner, I often find myself falling into the vortex of writing purely and only with my readers in mind. 

And, hell, I’m a copywriter, I understand the power in that and in connecting with my peoples in this way. And, I love it. 

But, being you while doing so is imperative.

For so many reasons. 

For your creativity, inspiration, longevity, and most importantly just for the love of it. 

For me, it’s writing and reading.

For you, it could be cooking, drawing, creating in any which way…

Are you making time and space to do it from a place of pure and utter expression? (AT LEAST SOME OF THE TIME) 

Are you giving yourself permission to do it just for you?

Maybe even putting it out into the world for others to connect with as well. But, just incidentally. Not because you destined it that way. 

Is there a part of your life (whether you are a business owner or not) that blurs the lines between want and need? That has the potential to bring you back to you when you need it?

This is your reminder to make space for that thing. This is my reminder to make space for it too.

Life is yours to create, dudette. So make time and space to write the story of your damn dreams.

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