I have a friend who thinks that blogs are just public diaries. Every time she says that (in a way that I know is a not too veiled question of what I do here) I want to stomp my feet in protest. There is a lot of mighty fine writing that happens in our bloglandia–a lot of powerful stuff in raw and polished form.
But, to some extent she speaks truth. There is a lot that gets posted here and on other blogs that feels very much the stuff of journals. There is a certain recording of our lives that happens here, a marking it down, lest it be forgotten. A turning it into words so that we can better make some meaning out of it. A cleansing because sometimes writing about something just makes it feel so much better and why not here?
I suppose someone could say that all writing is in some way, a public diary. It all starts with using words to illuminate a piece of our souls–whether we call it fiction or memoir whether we claim “it really happened” or we just imagine it did. Telling a story, playing with truth, juggling words–if we are honest it all starts in a vulnerable place and with an idea or thought or feeling or neurosis that is all our own. I can see the truth in what she says and hold in my head that she is absolutely right and also hold in that same space the truth that there is some mighty fine writing going on on my favorite blogs.
But truth be told, I know that I get so defensive when I hear blogs (and especially my blog! Oh my!) described that way, because I want to think I am above keeping a diary for the world. I want my writing to be more than the verbal vomit that I always associated with my writing at the time I kept volume after volume of my deepest secrets scrawled in angry, melodramatic rambling prose in black and white bound notebooks.
I want my writing to mean something. I want my writing to have made order out of chaos. I want my writing to point to something true. I want my writing to be–well–beautiful.
I love my blog because this is a place to practice–a verbal sketch book. I write about my life because its here, in front of me. I write about my life because its really the only thing I know to be true. I write about my life, for the same reasons I read voraciously because stories help me rise above the weeds and muck and blurry close up view of my life to a height where I can see the pattern, sense a meaning. It may read like a diary but it is so much more. It is a place to play with words based writing about the stuff that I know best. Its just that.
When I first had my blog I played a lot more. Made lists. Rambled. Posted pictures. But it has changed as I got more serious and as my writing matured and as I discovered that every now and then someone reads this thing. I think a lot about what I write here because you (yes you!) come here and I want so much to delight you and I don’t want to waste your time.
In this way my blog has become a metaphor for something I am struggling with–(hello diary!) living unedited. I have noticed in recent weeks how I can still slip into the bad habit of dialing myself back to be nice, polite, or to fit into what is expected. Worse yet, I find myself holding myself back until the “final draft”. Living in the messy space of being unpracticed has been a, well, practice for me and yet, the deeper I dig in, the more I see where I am holding myself (and my me–ness) back. And my writing and my creativity is just one of those spaces.
Truth is, I don’t write to be good. I don’t write to be considered talented or brilliant or even somewhat interesting. I don’t write for any other reason other than that words matter and stories matter and telling them is good for my heart. They don’t have to be neat or perfect or even stories, do they?
I worry a bit, about what would happen if every day I showed up here and just wrote. Wrote without a point or without a neat ending or even without prose. What would happen if I wrote simply for the joy of playing with words and saw what happened when I arranged them this way. You might stop coming here. You might even call this space a “public diary” Thinking about it makes me sad. But I am willing to take the risk because write now I am practicing living in a deeper, more authentic way and this seems like a good space to do that in.
July is going to be a little experiment. What would happen if I just got here and wrote without a finished piece in mind. It might all be crap. Maybe you should set your alarm clocks for August. We will see.