There are no mediocre blog posts
Okay, so here is a little window into my process.
I started this blog post last weekend, I was inspired, and excited to write for the first time in a while. But then I didn't finish it, and then I started to avoid it, and then I felt really blocked.
My frustration with this block is actually what inspired me to start this blogging daily for a month thing, and to give myself a time limit, and to challenge myself to risk bringing more of myself here.
This post is really what inspired the two previous posts. Tonight, I decided to share the abandoned post with you. I spent an hour waiting for the slow internet to upload my website, and then I copied and pasted my unfinished blog post here, with a only touch of editing.
[T]he speed with which an idea in your head reaches thousands of other people’s eyes has another deflating effect, this time in reverse: It ensures that you will occasionally blurt out things that are offensive, dumb, brilliant, or in tune with the way people actually think and speak in private. That means bloggers put themselves out there in far more ballsy fashion than many officially sanctioned pundits do, and they make fools of themselves more often, too. The only way to correct your mistakes or foolishness is in public, on the blog, in front of your readers. You are far more naked than when clothed in the protective garments of a media entity.
But, somehow, you’re liberated as well as nude: blogging as a media form of streaking. I notice this when I write my blog, as opposed to when I write for the old media. I take less time, worry less about polish, and care less about the consequences on my blog. That makes for more honest writing. It may not be “serious” in the way, say, a 12-page review of 14th-century Bulgarian poetry in the New Republic is serious. But it’s serious inasmuch as it conveys real ideas and feelings in as unvarnished and honest a form as possible. I think journalism could do with more of that kind of seriousness. It’s democratic in the best sense of the word. It helps expose the wizard behind the media curtain.
Last night I was feeling down about my blogging, because of my continuing struggle to reconnect to that delicious creative flow that I had felt my first year of blogging, which was everyday. I had written a post that felt a little rushed, and I was concerned that it was mediocre. Whenever I struggle with these types of problems, or really, any problem, I turn to my husband who is the wisest person I know, even wiser than I’d like to think I am. He deserves a vicarious honorary degree from my every experience of learning since we've been together. (This July it will be 12 years.) His ability to know and understand and reflect me is magic. He mirrors me and reminds me what I already know, but forgot, because I can get lost within certain aspects of my personality. When I struggle with feeling whole, he helps reflect the parts of me that I have forgotten.
“There are no mediocre blog posts.” he said. And then explained why this is true. And he was right. He helped me remember that a blog is a log. “A log is an official record of events during the voyage of a ship or aircraft.” (New Oxford American Dictionary). A log is a record of life, as you experience it. Preferably daily. To me a blog is both science and art. The art is pushing oneself into new forms of expression. The science is the tracking of life.
When I brought up my feelings of disappointment about not offering more polished or thought-out writing, he reminded me this time what a blog actually is and what it's for. It's for sharing a process. For his example--he referred to one of his favorite internet reads: Andrew Sullivan's blog, The Dish, which disseminated, in February of this year, after over ten years of a wide readership. Sullivan has decided to leave it up as an archive to access.
This morning, I woke up ready to approach my blog in a new light—I checked The Dish and found the quote above--which Andrew Sullivan had written 13 years ago. I was so inspired, I immediately came here to share with you what I am starting to understand.
For me, blogging is foremost about honesty--it's about revealing the little details of the clunky, messy, exuberant process of life. It is about developing a point of view, strengthening it daily, which includes sharing my point of view even when it is uncertain or has changed.
For most of my life I have been a grand risk-taker. I have traveled far and wide. Immigrated to the desert. Lived in a tent through out most of my pregnancy. I have tried most of the things I am terrified of. I have challenged myself to take on seemingly impossible tasks. And yet, one of the risks that I have consistently stayed away from is sharing my opinion. Underneath this avoidance are three main fears: a) offending people, b) being called out on my ignorance or c) being seen as narcissistic or self-absorbed. This style of being has kept me apolitical, super nice and falsely modest. It has kept me quiet and safe, in the area of the mind and the world. I have stuck to subjects that I care deeply about and know: the arts, spirituality, psychology, education. I stay away from arguments, debates and certain kinds of personal truths. I am terrified to let people know how narcissistic I am, or how differently organized. I hide the truth of my metaphysical perspective. I have been afraid to share my failures and my pettiness. I have been afraid to reveal the messes in my mind and my life. I have been afraid to challenge others to think in new ways about their place in the world.
I realize that it is not my duty to reveal my thoughts and insecurities. Especially not on the internet. No one is asking me to be more honest or vulnerable or risky. And yet, it feels as if there is some force pushing me towards sharing more of myself with the world. If I think about it, there has always been this force daring me to do things I am afraid to. It’s an inner voice of challenge, it feels almost spiritual in nature, as if I am being pushed into my destiny.
When I hide my point of view, I feel like I am letting myself down. I feel a magnetic pull towards revealing myself. Not revealing myself in the ways I used to: through emotional vulnerability, sexuality, or insecurity, but now it is about sharing my truth, my point of view. This is about taking myself seriously enough to think I have something to say that is worth listening to. This is the hardest thing for me, and I know I am not alone in this. This is hard, most especially for women—to value our voice and our message enough to unapologetically offer it to the public. The unapologetic part is the hardest part for me. I have been trained by our culture to apologize for myself so much, that it becomes the feeling of apologizing for my very existence. This is not just about narcissism, about being seen, this is about engaging in conversation. This is about making use of my mind for good in the world. The potential good that I see is in sharing my mind are my insights into The Culture and how it it is eating away at our humanity. Sharing my opinion feels terrifying, because it means acknowledging to others that I value my own thoughts, ideas and beliefs. My life long dream has been to be a voice to & for others. This is what I wrote about in my college essay, which was, itself, quoted from a journal entry, which was written in response to watching Christian Slater nakedly & anonymously announce his truth on the radio in Pump Up the Volume. Here is a little piece of the Christian Slater-inspired journal entry/college essay:
"And now I know everyone needs a voice, each person has her own but she needs another to feed on. Another to accept hers and expand its possibilities, to go beyond what is expected. I know that no one at high school is that voice. Alexander [my older brother] is that voice. And even though I have discovered his voice is not always perfect, not always consistent, it is alive. It is there. Not everyone has, or knows they have, or knows they need a voice. A voice of love, of understanding, of influence. I know my own voice follows love; love of the abstract, the personal, the unique… I need a reason to be voice. It has to be person, someone to speak to me… a voice that speaks to mine… My dream is to be a voice. Maybe it is a voice that quivers or that is shy, sensitive, or silly, but it is a voice that communicates."
I am remembering now that what I had with zoelab 365, which I have been grieving over for the past few years, is that openness of mind. It was the first time in my life where I shared my point of view. The risk and thrill of it were palpable. It was like an extra source of high-energy food that I was living off of. Perhaps the kind of breathlessness that blogging every day (often writing designing or editing for up to four hours every night) required is unsustainable, and the year had to come to an end. But I am ready now to take on a new journey with this new blog. I am ready to challenge myself, yet again, to reveal more truth. To push my own boundaries to discover my own opinions. I want to invite readers to challenge me as well. To respectfully educate me when I am ignorant. To cry with me when I am sad. To laugh with me at my own narcissism or pettiness. To recognize your own narcissism and pettiness in mine. After all, the point of the blog is the connection between the blogger and the reader. This is the thrill of it. I am looking for conversations. I am looking to impact the world through challenging all of us to be more compassionate, creative, connected and honest. I am looking to risk my ego to share the larger truth of my humanity, including my flaws, vulnerability and criticism.