Peering out of the deadlight

In March, my little blog will be eight years old. It's funny that this is considered old in our world and that after a mere decade many of us are ready to declare blogging is dead. And it's funny too that I don't disagree and yet I continue blogging and feel less wavering about that than I did when it was all much headier.

Five or six years ago, I saw blogging as a potential escape. I thought my blog might lead me to quit the cubicle. I thought it might get me on radars that might lead me to places. These things both did and didn't happen. I sometimes felt like they didn't fully happen because I was the bad blogger who broke character and disappointed everyone. If only I had kept my mouth shut and played the game! But we know that's not me and the small group of you who continue to read here count on it not to be, I suppose.

Anyway, I guess I've always had a slightly different perspective on blogging because I work in media. I saw blogging as an antidote to much of my day job rather than a stepping stone to it. It was really different from the get-go: My blog has a name that makes no sense to most people, isn't at all optimized for SEO. My content is haphazard - only cohered by me, and I'm hardly coherent. I could jump from a post about poetry to a post about lampshades without thinking twice about strategy, or being aligned with advertisers, or reader demographics. And it became my favourite thing when readers came and stayed for that roller coaster, especially when they were the readers I didn't expect to stay.

Then blogs started ticking us all off: I think we all saw certain blogs going in certain directions and felt that the very notion we held so dear was deserting us; that blogs were becoming the very thing they purported not to be. I remember a particular moment when I saw an ad for a Happy Meal on a certain "independent creative" Mommy blog and thought, the end is nigh! I flailed about it. But now that rage seems silly, the way we got amped up, Twitter DM-ing about how stupid we thought so-and-so had become. In the end, I simply stopped reading those blogs, magazines and sites that I found repeatedly stupid. And the group of blogs I clung to became smaller, less connected, more idiosyncratic. What holds them together now isn't a coherent aesthetic or a sense of likemindedness, but a vaguer sense of admiration and enjoyment, sometimes intimate to the point of feeling like a friendship and sometimes pleasantly detached and cloaked in anonymity.

Last year, the comments trickled away from most blogs. Comments had become a measure of the worth of a post, both for me personally and for the blogging community more generally. I think those of you who read closely will know there have been times when I struggled with comments, with a sense of being judged or related to too closely or, worst of all, misunderstood. I also appreciated comments. Even when a comment was simply "lovely" or "beautiful", I saw it as a sort of sweet embrace. Maybe not rich in semantic content, but expressing fondness and support nonetheless.

But there's an upside to distancing blogs from audience, engagement, dialogue: The lack of comments now makes me forget a little about readers. And I think content creators should sometimes forget readers. Now, I blog more like I did right when I started -- without a sense that anybody's listening. The idea of obligation has faded, as has the idea of enterprise. I'm just doing it now because I really like it. And I'm just saying what I want to say, not carefully cushioning my words to protect myself from misunderstanding. Of course, readers are not gone from my mind entirely, especially when I write posts like this. But I don't keep going because of others.

I keep going because I like giving voice to myriad things, some easy and light, some not. Because, somehow, I have this sense that my blog is a valuable part of me, perhaps valuable in ways only to me. I see a sense of self emerge that I don't always grasp in the ever-fleeting present tense. I see recurring themes and struggles, as well as progress and purpose. It's a cloudy mirror, not the Lacanian vision of a realized self. But I don't wince at the reflection, as I so often do in real life or in memories. And that's an important feeling for a girl so often wracked with doubts about goodness and worth.

But despite saying all this... I also do still blog because you're silently here, whoever you are: People I know and people I don't. People who would find me disappointing in real life, or people who might like me even more. That beautiful simultaneous sense of longing and belonging, hope and isolation. Like this excerpt from one of my favourite poems. And you well know who wrote it if you've read this long. And I like you so much for that knowing.

what would I do what I did yesterday and the day before
peering out of my deadlight looking for another
wandering like me eddying far from all the living
in a convulsive space
among the voices voiceless
that throng my hiddenness
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