Obviously I haven't gone two years without writing - the implications of that are too scary to contemplate. But to be fair, Project "The Kitchen" took up a lot of time and energy, and documenting it for future generations - not to mention Facebook - used up all the spare time available for what can feel like a selfish indulgence.
After all - it's not as if I have any obvious need to write. I make no money from my blog. Readership fluctuates and I have no idea how many will see this (though statistics do suggest it's received 55,000 page views which isn't bad I guess?) And yet a while back I proudly posted that "I am a Writer" - the implication being I must write I guess. And, finding myself in Venezuela 18 months ago, with a poorly son, the first thing I asked for when offered assistance was a pen and notebook. How could I have left home without one? (that of course is a rhetorical question - I also left home with a change of clothes and insufficient soap or toothpaste to last the three weeks I ended up staying ...) As I see it, I simply need to write.
No one is surprised if someone says that they have to eat something. Hunger is a need that must be satisfied with obvious results if it isn't addressed. Likewise thirst - three days without water is likely to end a human life. Sleep is another obvious example, as are trips to the bathroom - but writing? How can you need to write?
Personally I have found that for my own mental well being it is important to do so. It has to be hard for anyone who doesn't own this need to understand and I'm really not sure I can explain but I will try.
As a teenager I had various pen pals. The excitement of sending and receiving those paper thin airmail envelopes used to thrill me - and offered a window into the life of someone my own age living far away. As I grew older and friends moved away we would exchange letters - sometimes two or three a week. Full of news, thoughts and feelings, making sense of the world around us as we wrote to one another.
Enter the digital age and with the novelty of the email this was all so much easier. Email correspondence with those around the world was almost instant - who reading this remembers the delight at seeing a reply after the whirring of the dial up connection (and the complaints you were hogging the landline of course).
But things have moved on. Email seems to have become the tool of business. Inboxes overflow with subscriptions, promotions, offers and updates. Friends are more likely to connect on messenger or Whatsapp, or by sending a text.
There is nothing wrong with this of course. But where now is the space for a thought out expression of what we are feeling? When do we take the time to tell someone how we are feeling in a medium that can be stored and revisited in darker times maybe?
Greetings cards have been replaced by texts, Facebook messages and e-cards. They save time, money and resources but, just like pen and paper or good old fashioned email they are merely a tool. How we use them lies in our hands and we can make a choice. I referred to the Venezuelan adventure earlier. In the midst of the worry, anxiety and loneliness it was so good each day to wake to a missive from one of my dearest friends. Facebook messenger became our light blue paper, sending thoughts and support across the world in the middle of the night.
When did blogging begin? When did it become fashionable? I suspect I jumped on the blogging bandwagon fairly early on as I recall a degree of suspicion amongst friends and family. Some indeed were hurt that I chose to express myself on here when I found it difficult to talk about things.
What is so hard to explain is this. If you are hungry and someone says go to sleep that probably isn't going to help. If you are thirsty and someone suggests you go to the loo it's likely to be impossible. If you need to write then talking about things may simply not be an option. Perhaps after writing may be a good time to chat things over, but not if the very act of writing has caused upset or sadness. And that can easily be the case when we choose to use what some see as a very public platform to express our feelings, rather than share them privately with each person in turn.
Some have suggested a diary might be a more appropriate means of "dumping stuff" and yes, I have diaries. Five year diaries, week to view diaries, notebooks and all manner of beautiful paper waiting for the stroke of my pen. I also have online diaries - password protected documents I may never re-visit.
What these do not demand however is the degree of processing I find necessary in order to create a blog post. The discipline in making sense of what I think or feel - as well as I am able at the time. The need to be grammatically correct, reasonably engaging, and concise.
I am a writer - I need to write. Blogging is my current thing but who knows what will surpass or replace it? I never dreamed I would stop buying books of stamps, or that my email inbox would fill me with anything but delight. What's next I wonder?