“I ramble to figure out what I’m thinking.”
It was a casually uttered thought, but I caught its significance as soon as the words left my mouth. My husband and I were enjoying a precious, quiet moment together (with a newborn in the house, these days quiet moments are precious) and talking about our personal goals.
As usual, I was obsessing. It has always been important for me to file my life into categories. I want to know where things fall into place. For my writing, it has been troubling me that I’m not sure of its place.
“I don’t know what it is that I write,” I complained to him. “I mean, I’ve been writing more poems, but does that mean I’m a poet? I’ve got a children’s manuscript that I want to submit for publication, but am I a children’s author? And then I write blog posts – that’s creative nonfiction, right? – but do I call myself a blogger?”
He gave me a nod that said I empathize, but I don’t understand.
“I’m sorry,” I confessed, “I’m rambling.”
Then I said it. “I ramble to figure out what I’m thinking.”
In other words, I ramble by writing and I write to discover what I’m thinking. To discover truth. Truth about myself and about others. Truth about my surroundings and my thoughts. Truth about the human experience.
Of course I’m well aware that rambling has negative connotations. Nobody wants to be known as a ‘rambler’. The person who just can’t stop. But, sometimes, I wonder if it isn’t necessary. I wonder if sometimes we have to do a bit of rambling to get to the end of ourselves. To meander, to take the long way around, to mosey and to let our thoughts jostle.
It reminds me of E.M. Forster’s definition of a story versus a plot.
The king died and then the queen died.
Is a story.
The king died and then the queen died of grief.
Is a plot.
Stories are basic. Plots are interesting. And plots are forged in the ramblings.