The road to ruin, the best-laid plans, and so on and so forth. Last week got away from me, and suddenly, like I’m under a spell, I’m slow blogging again. I’m not going to apologize, but rather offer you the magical cliche: “It is what it is,” in that it is really nothing at all.
I’ve been thinking about the difference between keeping a diary (or “hand-blogging” as a good friend once said) and blogging. When I was a kid, I was an off-and-on diarist. I started with The Judy Blume Diary, and it was just as totally awesome as you might expect. (It’s got its own Wikipedia entry for goodness’ sake, and you just missed buying your own copy right here at Mrs. Chibi on Etsy.) I filled that Judy Blume Diary with a fat, loopy scrawl, so utterly self-involved that I later erased many of the penciled entries because I found them so utterly embarrassing.
The thing about a diary is that it provokes inward, rather than outward looking, and unless you’re like Samuel Pepys (who just finished his own upgrade from hand-blogging) or Sylvia Plath (who recorded such blistering truth that Ted Hughes blacked much of it out for years,) it’s all just lists and complaining. “I did this, I did that, I’m hurt, I’m full of sorrow, here’s what I ate for dinner, here is the black cloud that has engulfed my soul.” For most diaries, reading them later is like listening to someone tell you about their dreams. It’s all really only of interest to the teller, as none of it was created with the idea of an “other.” Even when I occasionally unearth an old diary of my own and read my own “story,” it’s pretty bloody boring. Reading them is a slog because there’s no sense of conversation or audience, which is vital for any good writing.
The trap of blogging is the audience of everyone. I advise my students, for example, that one way to keep yourself honest and safe and respectable online is to have a safety check. For me, it’s my students themselves. I always think–even in semi-private Facebook posts, for example–would I be ok if a student read this? It encourages me to be more generous and critical in my thinking, but still lets me be myself. This is the opposite of a diary, where the invitation is to be cruel and to pinpoint your worldview to the sites you can see from the darkest parts of your heart.
So, here are the questions:
1. How do you combine the two to create a clear online voice that isn’t all sunshine and congratulations, nor bogged down with whining about the injustice of your fate?
2. Am I turning into a blogger who blogs about blogging?