WRITING & BLOGGING: The Perennial Question

Yeah, it’s been a while, but I’m again starting to ask myself “Why bother?”  prompted by lack of response (gotta find that Mark Bernstein post on why comments on blogs are not a great idea) but stirred to think more about it this morning by Carolyn’s tweet: “I STILL DON”T “GET” TWITTER…or blogging” and this, from Hugo Schwyzer’s weblog:

When W.H. Auden was asked by a Michigan graduate student “What can I do to become a better poet?”, he replied (this may be apocryphal) “Stop keeping a journal or writing long letters.” What Auden explained was that we do our best writing from pent-up thoughts and feelings; if we release that tension in diaries, for example, we might miss out on the chance to do some first-rate work. I am no Auden, and I am no poet. But if I want to write something that gets published somewhere other than on my blog, I need to be willing to give a bit more time to that project. This blog will continue, and fresh writing will appear here regularly — but it might just be once per week.

What struck me is Auden’s “we do our best writing from pent-up thoughts and feelings; if we release that tension in diaries, for example, we might miss out on the chance to do some first-rate work”  Well I’m certainly no Auden either, and no Faulkner or even a Steele, so I don’t have high hopes of publishing outside of my weblogs and so don’t mind sharing my thoughts and writings for free.

There’s an emptiness, however; an obvious emptiness when the work is out there and read–or not–and receives no reaction at all. Sort of like Friday night at the Improv, playing to an embarrassingly quiet full house. It’s likely less emotionally upsetting to keep things private–particularly when you feel like you’re hanging yourself out there and folks are just walkin’ on by. At least if kept to oneself, one can still feel that one’s words and thoughts have value since they’re not being judged if they’re not being offered. The creative mind imagines that one’s friends are either so bored that they don’t bother stopping by, or that your work is so bad that out of pity they avoid making a remark, tip-toeing silently away.

On the other hand, even as I write so much and so often here and in Hypercompendia that I must appear to have no live friends at all, I think that it has sharpened my writing skills rather than wasted them. And I do realize that blogging is more successful if it is focused topically, rather than shotgunned as I tend to do here. My Reality’s are boring or whiny to some; Literature discussions dreadfully tedious/interesting insight–but you can see that it limits the audience. And of course, political views on Current Affairs tend to always turn people off, regardless of the passion or writing put in. Something to think about.

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4 Responses to WRITING & BLOGGING: The Perennial Question

  1. I think Auden was onto something. I find that even private journals, if I wring every thought out into them, can keep me from doing other writing. I once went for a year writing nothing else, and my journal pages for that year were extensive. On the other hand, if I put my “garbage” into my journals, then my mental detritus doesn’t wind up in my more serious writing. I have a lot of mental detritus! I find that writing is for me a way to organize my thoughts about anything, from meal planning to the mysteries of the cosmos.

    But I get what he says about pent up thoughts. There have been times when I didn’t write anything for a few days, and then something bubbled to the surface that turned out to be very satisfying to put on paper.

    Reception by others is another matter, though. I think one has to just keep going regardless of others’ reactions or non-reactions.

    I don’t get Twitter. I barely know what it is.

  2. You do have friends — in ‘Hi places’. I’m your friend. And I truly enjoy what you write.

    I would agree with topical pics causing a disinterested audience. But I think even more so, when I look at the T.V. guide, society has moved away from what was once considered a great story with emotion and believability to a weirdness of appetite that I fail to understand. And with the introduction of facebook, my space, twitter, and telly texting, that weird appetite is moving ever farther to the left of great writing and fascinating storytelling. But I still love great writing and so I am your friend and I will be back.

  3. Carolyn says:

    Blogging, and most of us are guilty of doing it, is very postmodern and somewhat narcissistic, unless the blogger is completely un-self-aware–which is unlikely. It’s all very performative, at least in my mind. I think if you’re a serious writer, critical or creative, blogging a lot is NOT a good idea. Here’s why: Blogging is easy and casual and you tend to do it more often than serious writing. Then, you’re not only more accustomed to the blogging form of writing but you’re not spending enough time on whatever you find most important.

    God, this is so postmodern.

    Advice: get a Blackberry. All your emails come to you. It keeps you away from the internet. You can still get a Twitter application if you “get” Twitter, which I still don’t.

    THAT SAID, everyone’s writing process is different. But I have a love/hate relationship with blogging. I like to read about other people’s lives, and (sometimes) I think I’m pretty hilarious in my posts. Not recently, though.

    So, it’s like whatever.

  4. susan says:

    Interesting views here. I suppose it all comes down to the individual and the satisfaction derived as balanced on the input/output scale as well as keeping an end goal in sight (or out of sight, if one is trying to avoid the inevitable).

    As far as response, there are a few artistic souls such as yourselves that understand how deeply needy the creative mind can get and yet are selfless and non-egotistical about offering that occasional pat on the head to a fellow artist. I think it means a lot and I do try to get around and do this for others because I know that I am grateful when I get any encouragement here. Thanks, ladies.

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