I read in a book on journaling that it’s impossible to write about a single, solitary ‘thing’ or ‘place’ or even ‘person’ w/out a host of other things, places and people clamouring to be included. It’s true. It’s all part of the blue fish conspiracy, I suspect. I start off on bees, and end up back in ViệtNam. I think I’m going to be writing about Thanksgiving and family foodways and end up on bees and animal rights. In other words, I’m not a linear writer. Or thinker. Or driver. I may not be a linear anything!
So it worries me sometimes that readers will be hard-pressed to follow me, to read this blog. Heck, most of my own friends and family don’t read me! (And if you are reading this right now, bless you!) I used to blog for a national website. Still do, actually, although I intend to put most of my writing efforts into this space, and a manuscript project. Because there’s something slightly wild about being on my own, about not having to worry about my politics, my lapses into profanity. My non-linearity. (Non-linear moment: did you know that use of profanity is tied to higher intelligence? Hooray!)
The New Year’s startup brings all this to mind, as I consider my time this next year. Reflect on goals, priorities, all that I see upcoming: a move halfway across the country, to a brand-new house. Leaving this home where we’ve spent the past 20+ years raising a family, making lives and careers. If Buddhism is about anything, it’s in large part about intentionality ~ how we train our intentions, our motivations, to be compassionate to all. Even our own flawed & fragile selves.
Blogging for a website is different than doing it on your lonesome. I’m no expert on why we blog, but surely it’s closely akin to the journaling impulse: the writer Alexandra Johnson names a book after it, Leaving a Trace. Although I’m not sure that’s all of it — or even much of it — for me. Mostly I want to see what I think. Like E.M. Forster,”How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” It seems the reverse side of the coin of Forster’s life, the other half being “Only connect.”
They really do seem fingers & thumb of the same hand to me. You connect w/ the world when you journal. And what’s blogging but HTML journaling? So anyway ~ I don’t blog to be read. That’s exceptionally nice when it happens: it helps me feel ‘connected.’ But I don’t write/ journal/ blog to be read, per se. I’m a Forster protogé ~ I write to see what I think, how I feel, to make sense of it all. To record my observations for myself, to use later, or not.
The friend who originally recruited me to blog for the website told me to keep it ‘short & punchy.’ Sigh… I have a feeling no one will EVER describe my writing as ‘short & punchy.’ He also told me to leave the reader feeling good. He obviously wasn’t there when my husband BEGGED me not to read my 2nd chapbook at a poetry reading, saying that people should just slit their wrists and avoid the wait.
Ironically, I think in person I’m reasonably amusing. My friend Carol and I used to laugh so hard on the bus that folks looked at us funny (if we were drinking milk, I guarantee it would have come out our noses). But that’s talking, not writing. There is physical presence involved, the interaction of 2 or more folks. Real humour requires another party — not just me listening to me, or even you listening to you. It’s one of us listening to (or reading) the other. Like how you can’t tickle yourself…
My first, tentative thoughts on blogging were (& remain) that I don’t have enough to offer folks seeking spiritual comfort or insight. What I do offer is my own journey, begun as a teenager, and continuing still. So since I’ve always learned best by figuring out how to teach something (hence the various classes I’ve taught over the years for adult education), I’m back on this non-linear blog. Hard on folks who might think I’m some kind of ‘expert’, but I’m disavowing that position early on :).
Please join me on the ride. Who knows what we’ll learn, together?