Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Rumination and Cud Chewing

I've kept some kind of journal or diary since I was roughly 12 or 13. I still have most of them in a chest upstairs -- except for the ones I kept on the computer, which are locked up in files of various shapes and sizes, or online, somewhere. For some years, this blog was my journal. It was amazing to write my thought and have other people, people I didn't even know, hear me and respond. It was affirming and enlightening and really cool.

Then the internet became the morass of interconnections and Google exposure that it is. I started thinking about what all those people I didn't know might think of what I thought. The blog slowed down, not because I wasn't thinking or had nothing to say, but because I had nothing to say that I felt comfortable with just any old person who happened by to hear. I saw over and over the unintended consequences that went with speaking one's mind in full out public. My venue changed and I wrote my thoughts in smaller, more protected areas, to a select group of people, but even that got tricky and had unintended consequences. I got careful. I went silent.

At some point in 2008 I started reading The Artist's Way. One of the techniques Julia Cameron, the author, recommends are Morning Pages -- basically, a daily diary or journal, three pages of hand writing, put the pen to the paper and don't pull it up again until done. I did this for a while, got scared at what came out, stopped. I went back to it last fall, trying to do it her way, but eventually doing it my way and going back to the original journaling I did as a kid. The three page format still lingers on stubbornly, but I'm breaking free of that particular dictum. Some days I don't write. Some days I write only a half page. Still, I write.

I hadn't realized all this until just this morning while randomly poking around at something else. I looked through the list of blogs on my feeds -- my old blog roll here is much neglected since not everyone uses a feed and even the blogs I have there I don't read regularly. I wondered why I don't read blogs like I once did, why I don't write in my own so much, why everything I start to write seems boring and trite and a waste of effort. Where once I would think "I can't wait to blog about this!", now the idea of telling everyone my latest adventure seems like an exercise in utter idiocy or egoism. Aside from a few dear people who stop by, no one really notices me and that, in and of itself, can take a certain toll. One puts a blog online for various reasons, but a big one -- one that can't be denied if your blog is public -- is to get some attention, to have acknowledgement from the world that you exist, that you have some weight and power, that you have worth. It's painful to be ignored and it is all to easy to ignore people these days. Our technology encourages us to live in little bubbles of our own, protected from intrusion by email, voice mail, iPod ear buds, personal video, cubicals, spots on the couch. We can sit in a room with a dozen other similarly hooked up people and be entirely alone -- and encouraged to be so.

So I'm ruminating about this and about why I have, as yet, not pulled the plug on this, my blog, my little corner of Internet real estate. Perhaps it is just because I've had it so very long. It's mine, more or less. It doesn't demand dusting or feeding. I don't have to pack it up when I move. It waits. I wonder what I want to do with it. Put out book reviews? Sure. Make observations on the world? Yeah, occasionally. Report on my life? OK, why not?

Many people have turned their blogs into businesses. I haven't done that. This started as a personal journal way back when I was clodging together and uploading individual pages. It's still like that. It's whatever I want it to be when I think about it, there the instant I want to access it. I still occasionally have little daydreams about it. I've also gotten a healthier perspective. I no longer derive any self worth from who reads it or what my stats are -- I can't remember the last time I checked my stats although I recall clearly a long period when I obsessed about them. I find that I no longer really mention the blog much. I don't have it listed in my Facebook account -- then again, I don't list much there because I resent even having to BE on Facebook, yet cultural pressure is such that I am on it.

But this isn't what it once was to me. My deeper, weirder thoughts don't show up here anymore. They go into a little notebook only I see. But, even there, the Rules of Blog I've internalized control what I say. Don't talk about other people, at least not beyond how what they do affects me directly. Don't mention names. Don't say anything embarrassing to yourself (how sad is that? I can't even tell MYSELF this stuff.) Careful talking about sex, about politics, about religion, about death, about children, about anything that might poke a troll to pour shit onto you for their own masturbatory pleasure. I find these rules emerging and I ponder them. I'm writing on paper with a pen, I remind myself. No one really is curious about the damn thing. I don't advertise it. Why can't I say what I want?

Yeah, there it is, the other side of freedom -- being responsible for what you say as soon as it becomes available to other ears, eyes, minds. And dealing with what other people think, dealing with what your thoughts expressed excites in them. Dealing with their defensiveness, their anger, their pain, their applause, their praise, their...whatever.

So, it sometimes is hard to come here and write like I could 10 years ago or 12 years ago (yes, it's been that long). But I hold onto this because...because I can.


Becs said...

I know. This is partly why I newly baptize my blog. It used to be very 'let me spill my guts here', but I don't do much of that any more.

I've been doing morning pages since I first read The Artist's Way, and that was in 1997! I have boxes full of old journals down in the basement.

Anonymous said...

I know how you feel. Never considered starting a new journal under an alias? Then you can write whatever you like.

Sherri said...

Mavro -- I have done that. It still ended up being me with all my attendant worries and crap. I'm no good in disguise.

Becs -- that's dedication!