Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Shiftless Wanderer in Blogland

I have been busy surfing Blogland these last few nights, ever since I saw Jane's updated blogroll, which has some delightful offerings. One can get lost in this new world I've entered. I haven't quite decided what to make of it all. It is overwhelming at the very least, a cacophony and kaleidoscope of words and images so loud, wondrous, and disconcerting to boggle the mind.

I don't think anyone would be surprised to know that one of the most noticeable reactions I've had to this Meander I've followed is to second guess my own blog and my writing and my purpose and my abilities and my future as a blogger and my weight and my clothing choices and my professionalism and . . .and . . .and . .  .

And my next most noticeable thought is, "Does it really matter? and Does anyone really care? Do I really care? Am I making a big deal of something that is not really all that important? What is my purpose in this blog?" That's the question, really.

So, here's a few answers. No, it doesn't really matter. No, no one really cares all that much. And no, I don't care. Well, okay, yes, I do care. A little bit. And sometimes I care a lot. Yes, I am making a big deal of something that, in the whole scheme of things - Occupy Wall Street, the death of North Korea's leader, the Sailor's upcoming deployment (and after some discussion, my oldest son's blog name is now the Naval Officer, since he worked damn hard to earn that title), the Scholar's appointment with a rheumatologist tomorrow, the travails of daily crises and the pain and trauma of large crises that my clients are working so hard to bear - isn't that important at all, from this perspective.

But the purpose of the blog . . . that feels really important. One of the things that I second guess myself about is the gravity and density of the writing here. I've been reading some great blogs that are short, sweet or not so sweet, and to the point - Divatology, Geogypsy, Telling Dad, Whiskey and the Morning After - all worth checking out. But I came across this little nugget of wisdom in Jeff Goins' blog; "The more you focus on a particular topic, the more specialized you become and the more you attract an engaged audience." So I'm going with that. I am a fairly grave and dense person. I'm a depth psychologist. Not that you have to be grave and dense to be a depth psychologist. But that is the kind that I happen to be. No sense trying to be someone I'm not. And no sense in trying to write something that isn't true for me. I guess rather than a particular topic, I am specializing in a particular experience.

It is when I bring my most authentic self to the keyboard and to the blank page that something magic happens. I think that's true of most writers. Goins also urges the blogger to remember that this public medium isn't just a place for the writer to stand front and center and glory in the attention that may or may not come her way. The blogger must be faithful and attentive to the readers that may or may not come her way. So true. But I really don't know how to most honor the reader unless I've started by honoring the writer.

I have realized as I've wandered down some strange, busy roads these last few days in Blogland that I'm not especially interested in becoming a famous blogger like The Bloggess or Erika Napoletano or Zen Habits. That much attention scares me to death. What I am interested in is good conversation. I like smart blogs. I like blogs with interesting, new, quirky ideas. I like blogs that have some weight to them.

I have also realized that I am not interested in making things easy for people. I haven't really known this about myself until recently. I don't want to compromise my gravity and density for others' comfort. Does this sound mean? I don't intend for it to be a thoughtless, "screw you" kind of statement. What I mean is, I think it's okay for us to work sometimes. I'm reading the German and French phenomenologists and, believe me, they had no interest in making life easy for their readers! But I enjoy the challenge. I have to slow down. I have to reflect. I have to engage with the text. I have to be present. This is the kind of experience I hope to provide for those people who find their way over here. Then we can wander around together in this dense, gravity-laden life we're living and maybe not feel quite so alone.

That's my hope anyway. Maybe we can hold hands while we walk. That might make things a bit easier.


  1. "But I really don't know how to most honor the reader unless I've started by honoring the writer."

    Hear, hear.

    Who you are, what you write about, often takes my breath away. I, personally, wouldn't want you to try to be any other way.

    I posted a few weeks ago about an article I ran across by Neil Stauss talking about being authentic for your readers (mostly it was in relation to not keeping secrets from them). Readers will know when you're not being true to them or to yourself. Your authentic self - grave and dense - is why I read. Thank you.

  2. Thank you, Jane, for the reassurance! It helps! And I read your blog because even though there is silliness - which I need big doses of every now and then - there is also a large reflective presence, which I very much admire. And I just keep adding to my music list when I read your postings. But what really sold me on your blog is your quirkiness. Not quirkiness to be cutesy quirky, but quirky as in "isn't this life kind of weird and fascinating? and I'm noticing it." I started reading your blog when you were posting your "American Gods" series. I was reading the book at the time. It was all just so right. :-)