Monday, November 13, 2006

13: on blogging

As a new blogger, I often think -- obsess, really -- about what my posts say about me, how I come across to strangers. What identity am I constructing with these posts? What if it's something I'm not, or do not want to be? Can I start over if I don't like the way things are shaping up? And by "things" I mean "me."

I am wary about sticking too closely to any theme. It's unfortunate, but the blogging world seems as divided as high school. You have your parenting blog, your cooking blogs, your book blogs, your celebrity gossip blogs, your link blogs, your knitting blogs. So far Tatterdemallion is looking like a book blog more than anything, and this bothers me. I mean, I read 50 Books, among others, religiously, but what if I want to write about knitting, cooking, learning to sew? Or my cats and my fish and my dog? Or the awesome chocolate chip cookies that I made this afternoon? Or my friends, my favourite teachers, my crushes? Or the movies I watched last night? Or the computer game I played until five in the morning? Or my sucky job? Or weather, hiking, travel? And what if I want to veer away from all of these fluffy topics of happy early-twenties existence and talk about something darker? What if I want to write about my little brother's potential drug habits and my own struggles with psychiatric drugs? What if I want to tell stories about bad psychiatrists and suicide attempts and mental hospitals? I've already deleted a post that I wrote about insomnia because it felt inappropriate sandwiched between pictures of Venice and babble about books. If I managed to get even a small readership, would I feel compelled to keep writing the kinds of posts that drew them originally?

I worry about readership. With a readership comes expectations, to a certain degree; it is almost a business agreement: you visit my blog, I provide you with the sort of material you enjoy. I don't like this, which makes me wonder why I am bothering to blog at all. Public writing is not something that can be done flippantly. I like the feeling of being able to post whatever the hell I want at any given moment, but the internet doesn't work like that. I'm aware of the dooce problem: I couldn't write here about how my parents have fucked me up even if I wanted to -- I am taking mild measures to keep my identity hidden, but I know that if anyone I know even tangentially came across this blog they would recognize me instantly. Full-disclosure is for private journals and notebooks only, and everyone who has a blog is, or should be, aware that anything posted on the internet has an intrinsic voyeuristic/exhibitionist quality. No matter how much I tell myself that I'm posting for myself, I know that I'm not. I'm social-phobic even on the internet, but I must still want to be read. Otherwise why do this?

I worry, I worry, I worry. I'll keep going with NaBloPoMo because I need more finished projects in my life, but I will worry.


Mrs.Chili said...

Yeah, stop worrying.

This is YOUR space. You can write about any of the things you mentioned and more simply because this is YOUR space.

Your concerns about the voyeuristic quality of blogging are valid, I'll grant you that. I've been dooced before. You know what, though? I keep blogging because, dammit it's MY space. No one is putting guns to heads to make others read it, plain and simple.

I think your concerns about your readership are less founded. I'm an English teacher, and I know that GOOD writing, the kind that draws people in and keeps people coming back, is writing that is authentic and geniuine. If you want to cater to a certain audience, then by all means self-censor, but my experience tells me that those writers either run out of material or burn out very quickly. The best blog writers *I* read are eclectic and smart and funny, whether they're writing about serious stuff or putting up random quizzes or memes.

So, who says you can't have an insomnia piece wedged between Venice and book reviews? I'D have read it...

feather said...

Thank you so much for this comment. I will probably reread it next time I work myself into a frenzied angst-fest about the nature of blogging. Really -- I appreciate this so much; I can't properly articulate it. But thanks.

Mrs.Chili said...

You're very welcome. Come back to me anytime you need a shot of blogging self-esteem.