Writing as a tool of personal development

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Ohg Rea Tone is all or nothing. He is educated and opinionated, more clever than smart, sarcastic and forthright. He writes intuitively - often disregarding rules of composition. Comment on his posts - he will likely respond with characteristic humor or genuine empathy. He is the real-deal.

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Writing as a tool of personal development

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My son and I began this magazine almost three years past.  I have personally written over eleven hundred (1,100) posts.  That is more than one a day.  Why would anyone do such a goofy thing?  I write because I am compelled to write.  Every thought that crosses my mind must be written – and examined.  The necessity of the essay compels us to complete the thought.  And so I write.  And in the process I learn about who I am.

One day I will die the death of a great martyr – killed defending the greatest of noble causes.  Shot down by a single sniper’s bullet.  Community leaders, politicians, ministers, even Presidents will weep at my demise.  My children and grandchildren will say proudly, with tears streaming, “Yes, he was my Dad.’  Following the necessary twenty years of mourning future historians will study my body of work – they will probe and divine, interpret and extrapolate, caress and find comfort, they will strive to know the real Ohg Rea Tone.  Who was this great man, they will ask?  And they will find the answer in the archives of thefiresidepost.com.

And the historians will conclude:  Ohg Rea Tone was completely nuts.  He must have accidentally been standing there when the bullet took his life – for he had no cause that he did not change his thoughts about at least twice.  And beyond that, most of his thoughts were convoluted and contradictory.  And they will be correct.  They can save a lot of time by just reading this post first.

The historians will turn their findings over to cognitive behavioral psychologists.  Those are the people who use narrative to try to make sense of the nonsense they study.  My writings will prove the mother lode of psychological interpretation.  They will ask:  Was Ohg a paranoid schizophrenic – or just a deviant asshole?  Was he a writer of great insight – or just a writer with a good spell checker?  Was his writing of use to his children – or did they encourage him to write to keep him busy and out of their business?

Many hundreds of thousands of people read the work of Ohg Rea Tone.  What insight does that simple fact reveal?  Are people who invest their time reading the rants of lunatics merely being irrationally exuberant?  Beyond reading the writings of Ohg, some bothered to reply in the comments section – the descendants of these writers will be hunted down and secured for the safety of future society – bad genetics must be harnessed.

Hey reader – those last three paragraphs were fun to write.  This is what I do.  I write to find out who I am.  I did not know this when we began thefiresidepost.com three years ago.  I just wrote stuff to my son.  But something happened along the way.  I would have a thought, write the post title, then write the introductory thesis, then find myself arguing with myself.  After struggling to make the post a coherent thought I would often have to change the title to fit the new idea – in the process of writing I talked myself out of what I had thought of as reasonable thinking.

Sometimes I write ideas and find myself troubled.  Sometimes for days.  I return to the idea and find that by writing my thoughts I actually provoked myself into a deeper understanding, forcing clarity, forcing myself to reevaluate what I thought were hard core, justified, values.

There was a time when many people kept journals – some say diaries.  The difference is probably in the personal nature of journal versus diary topic.  Therapists over the years have encouraged people to journal – to daily write about life experience – to try to articulate feelings associated with life events.  Generations of therapists note the therapeutic value of keeping a journal.  The term ‘BLOG’ comes from the idea of keeping a log on the internet.  The ‘B’ stands for something like bathosphere or biosphere or biopic or bionic or something important like that.  BLOG must mean ‘really powerful writing that no one else understands.”  At least that is my experience.

My teen aged granddaughter asked if she could write with us on our magazine (we call it a magazine because every topic is welcome).  I told her she could write with us – but I asked that she follow simple rules of essays. Introduce an idea, support your idea, and conclude the essay.  I think I scared her off – or she is pondering what the hell I am talking about.  I don’t know.

But I know this:  The basic structure of an essay is important.  Whether persuasive or informative – it makes no difference – open with a thought, defend the thought, and close.  This process forces a self examination for the writer.  Perhaps personal journaling should be kept personal.  I admit that I don’t write every detail or emotion of my life on this magazine.  But if personal journaling is kept private there will be no public journaling.  Writing an essay is inherently personal.  Writing about the economy, or politics, or science is personal.  It is personal because it comes from a person – how much more personal can one get?  The writing reflects the person – reflects the intellect, reflects the ability to articulate, reflects the ideas that are important, reflects cognitive reasoning skills, reflects moods, and good writing reflects emotion.  Writing is personal.

The internet offers some unique opportunities to grow as a person and as a writer.  The uniqueness of the BLOG is in the feedback of the reader.  They can write comments.  And believe me, every comment is insightful.  One commenter last week wrote, “Your stupid!!!”  The comment said more about them than about me.  A couple of posts have generated ongoing discussion between readers – they were writing to each other in the comment section of my post – as if I was not there listening.  Fascinating stuff.  Frequently I find the comments cause me to either rethink my position or cause me to entrench myself in defense – in either case a new post is generated.  These are times that I find myself learning about myself.  Feedback is always useful.

When my son and I began this thing we talked about writing between 300 to 500 words per post.  We were trying to intellectually plan – this current post is already over 1,000 words – so much for planning.  Over time my son and I have evolved to a more open freedom of expression.  There are no stated boundaries.  Maybe one:  We try to be honest.  We may not be smart.  We may not be correct.  We may be boring.  But we try to be honest about how we are perceiving the world at the moment the post is written.

I think my son worries that some day he will be a candidate for the United States Senate, a stepping stone for the ultimate achievement, and someone will dig up the electronic trail left on thefiresidepost.com.  The idea of following a paper trail of a Supreme Court Nominee seems amusing to this writer.  How many times does a person go through life without changing their view on any given subject?  It seems to me that a consistent forty year trail of ideology suggests a person that has not learned anything in forty years.

There is one thing certain about any essay that I write:  I will learn something about myself and I will likely contemplate changing something about myself as a result.  And that suits me just fine.  So there!

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