I thought I would try to explain what writing means to me as well as what it does for me. Writing means I get to put my words into a more permanent format. I speak a lot, but once uttered, the words are gone forever. There are times when I say something either witty or even downright intelligent and even then, the words are whisked away in the stream of time, gone forever more.

Writing lets me keep my words for later consumption. When I write, the words remain even after I’m done – unless I forget to save. I hate when that happens. The basic difference between the two methods of communication is permanence.

One of the things writing is good for is clarifying thoughts. When I speak, the words are gone and I’m not always sure I agree with what I just said. Sometimes I’m not even sure what it was I just said. When I write it out, I can look at what I just typed and decide that isn’t what I want to say. I can then either modify what I wrote or even blithely go back and erase it and start over.

I can sometimes talk my way out of situation like that described above, but that is usually more back-peddling rather than actually clarifying my thoughts.

Another thing writing can do is show me how I have changed with time. Someone wise once said that if your opinions don’t change between the ages of twenty and fifty, you have wasted thirty years. My opinions have been known to change from one week to the next. They  might change in a day.

There are times when my opinions change because I have new information available at a later time. There are times when my opinions change because I’ve opted to shift my own ideas. I might have thought something a few years ago that I no longer agree with today. Perhaps I was wrong back then, perhaps I’m wrong now.

I know I am swayed by new thoughts and ideas when they are presented coolly and calmly. I am almost never persuaded to change my thinking by didactic hounding. I need a good reason to change my mind.

Nancy, my dear liberal friend, and I used to have some rousing conversations. We might have each managed to alter the ideas held by the other on a few points. I know I’m a different person for having had to both crystallize my own ideas and give her the time and space to voice her own. We may have been passionate about our standings, but we were always open to listening and perhaps changing those ideals.

Another great thing about writing is that more people get to see what I think, just in case that might be important. When I speak, only those few people within range of my voice can hear. But when I write (and then post it on the web) the entire world can see what I have to say. At least, they can in theory. I’m quite certain the whole world doesn’t have even a remote clue that I exist, let alone care about what I say.

Even so, I do have friends and acquaintances scattered around the globe due to this wonderful thing called the Internet. Because of that, my words posted here in South Carolina can be seen on different continents and all instantaneously. I have friends in Australia, Africa, Europe, as well as scattered across North America. It is amazing how far my voice can reach when I switch to writing instead of speaking.

I love the written word. I started writing because I wanted to read something that didn’t exist. In order to fill that void, I wrote it. I have no idea how far my readership has ranged. I am published in so many different locations, some print, some online, that I don’t know when some of my words my touch or inspire someone else. I have no way to know who is affected by what I write. Even so, it is gratifying just to have the chance to write and the place to publish.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.