My friend asked me the other day "Should I read your blog?" (To be honest, when I say friend, I really mean boyfriend, but I'm a little shy to use that word for the first time. It's so, I don't know, grown up. Really, there should be a better word that doesn't sound incredibly cheesy. Lover conjurs up the SNL sketch with Will Ferrell in the hot tub.) "Isn't a blog a diary that you want people to read?" he said. This is rather a rough first introduction, I admit. He is in fact a kind person, an incredibly brilliant person, and he exudes goodness, but he's not alone in this, somewhat myopic, observation. I'd love my blogger friends to weigh in here, but I don't really see this as an online personal diary I want people to watch. I don't often record what I had for breakfast or how much I weigh or my daily interactions. (Let's remedy that: my gardener, who hails from Belize, is, it turns out, a huge anglophile, and just spent about twenty minutes telling me everything he loved about Britannia. The people with the blue eyes, the fair skin, the intelligence of the English race, the extraordinary history, and the resilience and resourcefulness of those brought up on a cold, windy, wet island.)
"Should I read your blog" said my friend, who is a man, and of whom I'm rather fond. (I'm pretty much positive he won't be and so I am emboldened to share this post.) "I prefer to get to know you directly, not through what you share with other people," he said. And I understand this. It's rather lovely in fact. But, he's a writer, and I've found myself reading a lot of the things he's written maybe to understand him better, maybe to educate myself (I don't know a huge amount about Foreign Aid or Veterans issues) or maybe because there's certain amount of obsession that takes over when you start to see someone new: you want to know everything there is to know about them -- including but not limited to their feelings about breakfast foods, dogs, their musical taste, poetry, how they treat other people, what's their relationship with their mother, are they conservative or liberal, can they kiss, boxers or briefs, do they hold their knife properly, are they attentive, and so on. I'm happy to report that he does very well on most of these things: he likes dogs, and moreover he is a dog person, he likes to walk and go on adventures, can recite poems by heart, is a big fan of breakfast, and he can dance! It's pretty great, to be sure.
A blog is more than a diary. It's an appreciation. For me, everything I love is poured into this place. Art, poetry, dogs, horses, memoir, recipes, trees, in equal measure. It's a way to remember things and way to memorialize things. It's a map, filled with tumuli and landlines and cliffs and contours and lakes and ponds and undiscovered ancient burial grounds. It's a place to discover things and to bury things. It's who I am, in a strange way. It started as a place to write because I was too scared to write. I didn't know where my voice was or if I had one. So a place that could be found, but wasn't necessarily blatantly public, was perfect. There was an element of terror: someone could see it. But that was good. That took away, to some extent, the self-indulgence. The writing is hardly ever edited. My whole approach was always stream of consciousness. Inspired by Woolf, although I am sure she was edited, with the idea that only by blurting it all out there would I find some truth. And sometimes it's really bad. And I know it. But it's real.
On Wednesdays I go to my writers group which is an alarmingly brilliant group of people, all of whom are more accomplished than me (read: published) and the most supportive folk you could ever hope to sit in a circle with once a week. We write. We read. We share. We critique. And every time I get closer to screwing my courage to the sticking point. There is a book. There are short stories. There is a half book (actually three of them). And soon, because I can feel it, I will be very brave and hand it over to someone who may be able to put it out into the world. But I wouldn't be able to do any of it without this blog, and my readers who encourage me to keep going, to keep writing, and tell me that sometimes I say something that helps them. That's it really. It's something about being able to glimpse the human condition, to look at some things that we all share, the things that make us fragile and real. The things that hurt us. The things that please us. The things that we love and bring us joy.
My closest blogging friends, Amid Privilege and Backwards in High Heels, write more frequently than I do, and they do so beautifully. I encourage you to visit their sites, as well as all of the good folk on my blog roll.
If you want insight into the human condition, a blog is the way to go. Raw, uncut, emotional, sometimes sharing too much information, but, essentially, real.