The Power of Writing
by Susana Rosende

"Writing is the only thing that,
when I do it,
I don't feel I should be doing something else."

--Gloria Steinem

I've always felt compelled to write. A voracious reader since childhood, I realized I had my own stories to tell. I kept diaries and journals from the ages of 10 to 20, including drawings, sketches, and cartoons.

In high school, my English teachers suggested I major in English after graduation. My Art teachers were less encouraging, yet it was Art I enjoyed more because it seemed less like work; much less draining on my psyche. With Art, I could be creative without being a perfect draftsperson.

For years I double-majored in English and Art. Yet, when I returned to college as a single mother, I felt English with a focus in Technical Writing was more practical, especially during the 90's surge in technology.

However, technical writing can be boring and tedious, and the corporate life, often spirit crushing. I missed my moments of creativity. Free moments for hobbies are few and far between for a single mother of young children, but as they grow older and more independent, one can sneak sketches and stories, while dinner's in the oven, kids are in the shower, and after they're in bed.

Anyway, the force from somewhere in Space which commands you to write in the first place, gives you no choice. You take up the pen when you are told, and write what is commanded.
There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you. --Zora Neale Hurston

Writing is therapy. The outpouring in diaries that carried me through the childhood turmoil of bullies, disloyal friends, and struggles with parents, also kept me sane through adult trauma. The death of my infant preceded my first divorce. My second marriage was fraught with domestic abuse, and afterward, during my second divorce, a nasty custody battle ensued. During both stressful divorces, I found myself unable to sleep. Writing became my obsession, refuge, best friend, sounding board, and therapy during the many, many sleepless nights.

"I write for the same reason I breathe;
because if I didn't,
I would die."

--Isaac Asimov

In an August 1999 article for National Geographic magazine, Joel L. Swerdlow writes, "Since writing's invention, people have used it to combat loneliness and establish a sense of self. In the fourth century B.C., Aristotle saw writing as a way to express 'affections of the soul.' Recent studies have documented that writing about feelings can alleviate depression, boost the immune system and lower blood pressure."

"It's a way to give a proper burial to some of our emotional garbage," explains Christina Baldwin, author of "Life's Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest." Baldwin's text is considered the landmark text in the subject of journaling. "By writing about our feelings, we can get them 'out' in a manner that is self-respecting."

Although Baldwin believes that writing with a pen and paper creates more of a connection than typing into a computer, she says that the most important thing is that we do find time to write.

"You don't need an hour or two to write," says Baldwin. "Today's women are so busy, that may be out of the question. You can set the kitchen timer for five or ten minutes. Close your eyes and when the timer starts, open them. Begin writing about the first thing that you see. Then, let that lead you to some of your deeper concerns. It's a great way to overcome writer's block. In the course of a week, a month, a year, you can fill a notebook while you're waiting for the kids to get out of school or you're at the baseball field - in your down time. And you'll have a chronicle of your life."

To this day, writing and drawing sustain my life. And the Internet, specifically, has connected me to other creative souls throughout the world, who are going through the same issues in their lives, be it the birth or death of a child, separation and divorce, re-marriage, relationships, single parenthood, pet ownership, career struggles, or who simply want feedback on their photography, novella characters, or short story theme.

“We die. That may be the meaning of life.
But we do language.
That may be the measure of our lives." -- Toni Morrison

For a single mother who is often stuck home in the evenings after children are in bed, the Internet has introduced cyber friendships, Art critics, and a reading audience unparalleled to none. And thanks to, I have an online refuge and creative outlet.

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