Saturday, August 14, 2004

Conflict

Since John Scalzi's Weekend Assignment was posted Thursday (my response is a couple of entries below this one), I've looked at a number of the journals that people I respect have been recommending. I've also added to my Other Journals list at the right--again.  But there are at least a couple of truly excellent journals I'm not going to read very often myself.  It hurts too much.

Having spent thousands of dollars trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant, I just don't want to read too much about infertility - or, conversely, about how hard it is to raise your kids. If you have children, be grateful for them, and don't come complaining to me. If you can't have children, embrace the advantages of that and get on with your life, as I did, or else adopt.  But again, I don't want to read about it.  Sorry. This is not to say I'll click away from any journal that mentions children or infertility in any capacity, but if that's the predominant subject of your journal, I probably won't be around much.  Fortunately, there are plenty of other people who will, assuming you write well and other people find out that your journal exists.

Similarly, I can't handle reading too much about memory loss (Alzheimer's or dementia), or certain kinds of mental illness.  My mom, a clinical psychologist, was also a psychiatric patient who suffered from a number of baffling and frustrating health problems at the end.  Three weeks before her death in 2002, I watched her consistently bring an empty fork to her mouth at Thanksgiving instead of a forkful of the turkey I'd worked all day to prepare.  It was the worst day of my life. So even though Watching My Sister Disappear is one of the best, most lyrical, wonderful, loving journals I've ever seen, I don't think I will have the equanimity to read it very often.  But I'll probably try to do so, because I think it should be read. (And of course it is widely read by others, deservedly so.)

Virtually all fiction is powered by conflict, the old "man vs. ..." litany of things the protagonist has to overcome, and the decisions the protagonist much make .  Without conflict, there is no story.  But who knew that journals functioned much the same way?  Quite a few of the journals I've sampled recently mention physical or psychiatric health problems (which are also physical).  Dealing with the depression or the MS or the MPD or whatever it is is one of the reasons for writing the journal, and one of the reasons people read it.  Even everyday conflicts (my kid won't take out the trash, there's a snake in the house!) and political conflicts (that darned President!) are fodder for journaling.

So if you have problems - and we all have problems - at least it's something to write about.  And among all the journals in AOL-J Land and elsewhere, there's an excellent chance that someone else is having similar problems, and is writing about them with grace and love and humor.

Karen

2 comments:

ryanagi said...

Yet another bunch of things we have in common, Karen. In addition to suffering from infertility (and the high insane cost of trying over and over to have a viable pregnancy), there are also a bunch of great journals that I just fine too painful to read. I have problems with depression and have to be careful how much sadness I expose myself to. Humor is my defensive mechanism, hence the plethora of funny/interesting/light journals in my sidebar and the dearth of serious/sad/tragic journals. Don't feel badly, you are not alone. {{{Karen}}}
-B

p.s. my adorable (if I do say so myself) son is the product of adoption. I really need to post his story one of these days, but there are a few folks who don't know he is adopted. He looks so much like a product of me and my hubby (and the rest of our family) that a few folks just jumped to the conclusion that he was ours by birth. I never felt the need to correct those folks because, at the time, they were just passing aquaintances in a play group or online. Just a minor fiction to assuage my wounds at not having experienced the joy of giving birth myself.

alphawoman1 said...

Me too.  Painful but inspiring.