Wednesday, April 09, 2014

What is a blog, exactly?

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.

7 comments:

Annabelle said...

REALLY great post, Miss Whiss!! I find myself asking this question a lot recently. My own blog went from divulging-TMI-exploration-of-humanness to randomly logging stuff I'm doing- and it's been going back and forth for about two years now, mostly because I thought my thoughts should go into my on-actual-paper writing, so the blog sort of got stuck in logging mode, but you've just inspired me to revert back to discovery mode! A blog really can be a beautiful thing.

AQ: said...

P.S. I think I want a friend and by friend I mean boyfriend.

Miss Whistle said...

@AQ I agree, a blog CAN be a beautiful this, Miss Annabelle. We WILL find you a friend. xoxo

Tania Kindersley said...

I adore this. I've been hopeless about reading blogs lately, and I'd forgotten how beautifully you write. And thank you for telling me what a blog is, because only a couple of days ago I admitted that I did not have the slightest clue. I think you nailed it. Very proud to have been name-checked. Love and woofs and neighs from me, S the D and the red mare. xxx

Tania Kindersley said...

Oh, meant to say - HURRAH for the BF. Tremendous news. Sounds heaven.

Joan Hreno said...

Your blog is inspirational and moving and provocative. I don't know how I found it, probably on someone else's blog roll, but I adore it. I love your recipes and poems and observations and have been moved to laughter and tears many times. I love blogs and novels and poems and magazines etc. I am a reader. I don't make too many distinctions anymore. I am especially grateful for all the wonderful poetry you share and I have, in turn, shared it on a community radio show I produce and host. thank you for your blog. I am grateful.

MommyEnnui said...

Oh, B., I can't tell you how I squealed when I read about your new friend! So thrilled for you. He sounds like a good one! As a fellow blogger, I have to say, you hit the nail on the head. Having to put things into words that another human being can understand has forced me to synthesize all the thoughts and feelings that flit through my mind every day. And, if by doing so, I manage to make someone laugh or nod in recognition, then that's icing on the cake! Thanks for inspiring me to be brave and put myself out there. It's absolutely been a risk worth taking. xo