November 22, 2015

Why I Write

Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I started writing Atheist Revolution in 2005 for one reason: I was mad. I was not a secular activist hoping to change the world. I did not have anything particularly profound to say or any great ideas I thought would influence others. I did not see myself as someone who had something to contribute if only I could find a suitable platform. No, I was just mad.

I was mad at the theocratic agenda of the Christian extremists who voters in the U.S. seemed to keep electing and who had a disproportionately large role in setting foreign and domestic policy. I was mad at the widespread bigotry directed at atheists and the fact that this particular form of bigotry was not just socially acceptable but almost mandatory for politicians seeking office. I was mad that I couldn't even disclose my feelings about religion without losing friends, risking my job, or opening myself up to retaliation from evangelical fundamentalist Christians who were quick to condemn anyone who wasn't "saved."

Just being mad was enough to sustain this blog initially. I'd guess that it was sufficient for maybe the first year. Most of my posts were little more than brief and not terribly insightful comments on various news stories that had something to do with the costs of religious extremism or the mistreatment of secular persons. These would be interspersed with periodic rants in which I vented on a variety of topics.

The turning point came when I discovered that I was not alone in feeling frustrated and that writing about issues I had no other means for communicating was therapeutic. By interacting with readers in the comments section here and discovering many other atheist blogs, I came to realize that there were many others with similar concerns. By putting a bit more thought, effort, and emotion into my writing, I found that my views on some issues became clearer. I was still mad, but I was more focused on how best to use it than just wallowing in it. Best of all, I discovered that writing almost always made me feel better, bringing a sense of peace.

My writing over the years, much like my priorities, interests, and moods, has been inconsistent. It has ranged from absurdly juvenile posts in which I did little more than hurl insults at others to thoughtful posts in which I labored to figure out how to express complex ideas or emotions. The frequency, tone, length, and subject matter have all varied over the years. In many ways, the blog I write today is not at all the same one I started in 2005. I'm grateful for that because just being mad isn't enough anymore.

I don't know how long I'll keep blogging. I hope to keep at it for some time even though I am planning to reduce my posting frequency a bit in order to allocate more time to other activities that are becoming more important to me. If I keep writing long enough, I suspect that my writing will continue to change. It might even reach the point where I find myself realizing that the Atheist Revolution of the future bears little resemblance to the 2015 version. And I might discover that I'm writing for entirely different reasons than I write now. I seek to embrace these uncertainties and draw inspiration from them. I like the fact that the future isn't set in stone.

As of today, I no longer write primarily because I'm mad. I write because I continue to find it therapeutic and because I want to express ideas related to atheism, freethought, secular activism, and other topics that I still have few other avenues to address. But most of all, I write because I still enjoy it most of the time.