This Writing Life

01/03/2011 09:47 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Maria Rodale CEO and Chairman of Rodale, Inc. and book author

I have recently heard that some people wonder whether I write my own blog posts or not. I can understand why they might think that, since I am a very busy woman with lots of responsibilities and commitments (although really, could anyone else make up some of the stuff I say?!). But what you all may not understand is that in the deepest part of my soul, I am a writer. I love writing. Writing gives me energy rather than takes it, and if it was the last thing on earth that I was able to do, I would be happy writing and I would probably write about it. And the writing I am most happy doing is what I call "documenting." I mean, if I didn't have a day job, I would love to write novels (romance novels!). But I need to do the documenting I do in order to survive. And yes, I will write on napkins, scraps of paper, and the margins of books if I have to.

It started when I was in my teens, and I began writing in journals. But I quickly got bored just telling what happened, so I started writing in poetry. I now have 35 years' worth of journals...all in poetry! Sorry, you can't read them. In order to be a great documentary writer, one must feel totally free and unbound. I think of the writers who inspired me: Doris Lessig and The Golden Notebook, for example. But that is not the kind of book a CEO like me can publish. So I keep those poems, and that writing, for myself, and for my most special and courageous friends. Because the truth is, it's in the sharing that the magic happens.

Which is why I don't mind sharing my more public thoughts with all of you on a regular basis. And it's not just about documenting my thoughts, either. I love to document recipes, events, tips and techniques, places I've been, and people I've met. One of my favorite books I read last year was Sailing Alone Around The World, by Captain Joshua Slocum. It was written by him in 1900, and documents his journey of...yes...sailing alone around the world. He is shockingly funny for someone who lived so long ago, and the descriptions of what he ate and what he saw brings the whole wide world to life in a whole new way. A good book like that both satisfies curiosity about life, and leads to more questions. From an encounter he had with Robert Louis Stevenson's wife while traveling, I am now inspired to read more of his work.

I think any writer wonders at times if what he or she writes is any good, if the effort is worth it, and if it matters. What I have found is that it doesn't take much to make it feel like it does matter. For instance, while my book Organic Manifesto wasn't a "bestseller," I have met enough farmers and people who've read it to know that all my research, effort, and, yes, documenting, was worth it. And what's great about the Internet is that stories live on, and people have the chance to discover them again and again as if they are finding something new. For instance, one of my most popular posts, month after month, is one I wrote a long time ago about how to talk to your daughter about sex. It heartens me to know that one little blog post can keep on satisfying a burning question that will never stop being asked as long as we have daughters. And maybe 100 years from now, my answers will seem archaic and old-fashioned. Or maybe they won't. And that, to me, is half the fun of documenting, even though I won't be here to find out the answer.

So yes, I write my own blog posts. And yes, I'm going to keep on writing them. And yes, I love to hear from all of you that what I write matters. But even if I don't hear a word, I'm going to keep on writing because it's what I love to do most, and I can't help but do it!

Thank you for reading!

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