martes, 22 de noviembre de 2011

ESPECIAL 5º ANIVERSARIO. De-blogging: Why Blog? Letter to Neurotic Poet - Alana Noël Voth

Dear Neurotic Poet,

I'm not sure who said, "I'm a writer, let the world consider itself forewarned," but maybe the sentiment applies because you've expressed guilt, apprehension or both about blogging, and have second guessed then edited posts out of fear of hurting someone. 

My guess, the one you'll hurt is yourself. By censoring yourself, I mean. Because you're like my baby brother who directs everything internally. For instance, he was once so torn up about a failing relationship he held his arm over a sink then went at his hand with a knife. "It was like every drop of blood relieved my pain." He hurts himself less the more often he writes.

Same here. I did once tell you writing has kept me alive.

I do consider writing my Personal Jesus.

Since I've known you, you've admitted you need a "reason" to write; and the reason a long time was college because of the structure and feedback. I've always hoped a desire to survive and egocentric indulgence would be enough. After all, you have a remarkable talent, and I've realized lately I've told more than one person that, and sometimes he or she appreciates the accolade, and keeps writing this incredible stuff, but sometimes he or she doesn't. I get mad when you fail to recognize your own talent. I feel even angrier when I wonder if you don't care you're talented.

Little while ago you said you began blogging in order to "force" yourself to write, and I was glad, because I figured you'd get turned on by blogging. Chelsea Girl of Pretty Dumb Things said she began to blog as a way to express stuff she couldn't express otherwise. Maybe she'd hit a wall as a writer too; I don't know.

Do you write more now than before you blogged?

Rainer Maria Rilke once urged a young poet to ask himself, "Do I need to write?" And if the poet's reply was affirmative, Rilke then encouraged said poet to "build your whole life in accordance with this necessity."

Back in the day, writers wrote letters to one another, almost impulsively, and often forged intimate bonds as a result. Stephen King suggests everything we write is a letter addressed to one person. Do bloggers blog to forge bonds? Do we blog in order to enter a conversation or start one?

Without doubt, blogging offers writers another vehicle for self expression, for communication with a larger world. Maybe what Chelsea Girl suspected was that blogging would encourage her to make sense of inner turmoil via an external connect. We write to an audience not into a void. (Wasn't it the villain from Lord of the Rings who said, there is no life in the void?)

OK, when blogging as when forging all creative non-fiction, morality comes into play. Certainly if you or I write to destroy another human being opposed to attempting to make sense of a situation, we're writing for the wrong reason.

That was the problem I found in teaching creative non-fiction to students. They cast themselves as victims. Poor me. Wah, wah, wah. Counter productive and a drag to read. So I used to give them assignments. For example, write from the perspective of a bully, or write about a bully who tormented you in school but then conclude your narrative with a revelation about said bully, a.k.a. reveal their humanity.

Hard to do but much more complex and therefore inspiring.

The worst non-fiction book I ever read was Mommy Dearest. That writer should have stepped away from the keyboard. What was the point other than to crucify Joan Crawford? I sure as hell don't condone child abuse, but I'm wondering what the writer's motivation was? Said book as is leads me to conclude the writer simple wanted me to hate her mother. Fine. I hate her. Now what?

I had a student once who told me everything was black or white, good or bad, wrong or right. Nothing in life was gray, and he refused to entertain ambiguity. His autobiographical essays were terrible, by the way. Recently, I read an interview with David Sedaris in which he said he never reads autobiography for "truth" anyway. Because we're not capable of telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help us God because there is no truth, only perspective, just as there's no answer, only more questions.

Therefore, how could ambiguity not exist?

I think the scariest blogs I've posted involved myself. Me, myself, and I. Posts about my father felt scary too, mainly because I love my father, have felt angry at him a long time and allowed my relationship with him to influence my relationships with other men. Sometimes, I can't help it; it's like a knee jerk reaction. However, writing about our relationship has helped put my dysfunction into perspective. Finally I'm more interested in peace of mind than making excuses for my dysfunction or passing blame. We're accustomed to that in our society: passing the buck, shifting blame.

The idea writing helps us confront our own demons is an age-old one, isn't it? In graduate school, one of my mentors said if it didn't hurt to write we shouldn't bother writing it. Idea being you must expose the pain in order to exorcise the demon. So there you are, Neurotic Poet, confronting the pain and spilling your guts and the process feels very much like that knife across your skin. You've got your pants down around your ankles, ass hanging out. And no, I don't like the idea just anyone could land on my blog and get a good long look at my ass either.

On the other hand, the assumption more than say, twenty people will read my blog, is a pretty incredible one! Regardless, I've woke at night and thought, Oh my god did I fucking write that? I have also become so sick of myself I committed blog homicide. Like, shut the fuck up already. You sad little ego maniac. 

You could write anonymously. Chelsea Girl does and in doing so secures a buffer between her audience and her subjects. Funny thing though, Chelsea Girl winds up the most exposed, not matter who or what she writes about. So although she wears a mask of anonymity, she's the most honest person I don't know.

Maybe that's what they mean when they say fiction is more honest.

Obviously not every writer in the blogosphere spills her guts Gwen Masters posts excerpts from published works. Susie Bright blogs about politics and current events. Alison Tyler spins lush yarns of is-this-or-is-this-not sexual autobiography? Shanna Germain stated she keeps her blog to the bare minimum because her good stuff is for sale. These women are not only talented writers who are widely published but brilliant marketeers.

*Make note.

A blog can be whatever you want. What you want most is to write. You need to write because it will keep you here with us. The other day Chelsea Girl wrote something on her blog that brought me solace, so maybe you'll like it too. She said something like, readers may believe they know everything there is to know about me as a result of reading my blog, even faithfully so every day, but they do not. We do not.

You can't represent the magnitude of a life on a tiny blog. Think of it instead, my friend, as a jewel box full of gems you've chosen to spit on one at a time then hold to the light.



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