One of my first jobs was as a technical writer. I had to figure out what I needed to explain, who my audience was, write a draft, and have it critiqued by engineers. Then I had to revise the damn thing and send it back to the engineers.
The problem was, the engineers were not interested. They left the copy on their desks, and went, “yeah, yeah” when bugged. Sometimes they just handed it back without reading it. I learned to sneak outrageous things in so that I could call them on ignoring me. At that point they got miffed and corrected my grammar, which was, frankly, better than theirs.
Needless to say, the process wasn’t very gratifying.
When I was a social worker, my writing was usually read only by myself. My standards were pretty high and I liked doing a good job. But with a readership of one, all that work seemed a little pointless.
My next experience with writing was for Survivorship. I did fifteen to twenty pieces a year for the Notes and the Journal and, believe me, it felt like a lot. Most of the time I had nobody to make suggestions or edit my work. Sometimes I lucked out and found a proof reader. It was a lonely endeavor.
I thought that what I was writing might be helpful, but I got very little feedback — people commented three or four times a year at most. At least nobody was complaining loudly. I just accepted the situation because I thought it was normal, part and parcel of the job. It wasn’t much different from my other writing experiences, after all. And I understood that being a survivor can be a full-time job, with little energy left over for anything else.
My website, ra-info.org, is basically a giant bibliography of others’ work, so writing on my part is pretty much confined to listing keywords. The fun is in tracking down new references and making things look pretty.
But a blog — oh how very different!!! People comment on almost everything that’s posted. For the first time, I am learning how my pieces affect people, which ones are helpful, which ones not so much. When I repost something I wrote years ago, the feedback suggests that I probably did reach people after all. It cuts right through the loneliness!
Some commenters are old e-friends, others are new to me. Most have an RA background but there are also readers who, for some reason or another, want to know more about ritual abuse. I feel part of a community that stretches around the world. I always knew, in an intellectual way, that this survivor community was out there, but now it is real to me.
Thank you all for this truly wonderful gift.