I may be a little overdramatic here, but there seems to be an observable pattern to aspects of my life thus far. I seem to have programmed in a default mode for when I "succeed" to a level beyond which intimidates me. Take the "get over it already and like your body" support group for example. I have talked about it for years now (ten?!). I've spoken to church people about it, been encouraged to pursue it, and met with an elder a few times. I found the materials on the internet complete with teaching packages. I've pretty much decided to go "community" and advertise outside of the bounds of church, but still I've not ordered the materials. My first excuse is money. The van cost us ridiculous sums of money in January, and I've been trying to minimize in some areas to compensate for that. But is it really about the money, or is it just more exciting to talk about doing this stuff, but really too frightening to stick one's neck out and begin?
Then there is the blogging/writing schtick. Within forty-eight hours this weekend, I had two distinctive and opposite conversations with people who have read my blog. The first encouraged me heartily to not compromise on the raw and the honest. That people resonate with what is expressed here, and it provides a voice for others who hadn't formed the thoughts into words and sentences. We talked about the risks of being misunderstood, and she shared her opinion that one should write to the audience that understands the intent,, and that nay-sayers should understand that reading the contents invokes the saying I used to have in my sidebar. "Know that if you read here; I am choosing to trust you. One cannot be trusted without consequences." Readers should understand that they are reading one person's perspective, and that this immediately makes it inconclusive, incomplete, and one-sided.
The conversation with the second party was that there is a distinct difference between a blog and a journal, and that a blog is not and should not be a personal journal. Openly processing raw and untidy thoughts and emotions is best reserved for notebooks and therapists.
I can see both viewpoints are valid. In processing, one must be mindful of respecting other people's privacy. In some cases, it's so near impossible, that it's just easier not to write about it at all. That frustrates me, because I believe that in the world of writing and reading, we all share common struggles. Some of the issues are less common, and when one discovers a blog that writes openly about something that you too deal with, it's a bonding, comforting, supportive place to go to. Staying quiet sometimes feels like pulling down the blinds and pretending that these pains do not exist.
Writing relatively uncensored has important things to consider as well. You've got to have the inner strength to cope when all hell breaks loose, and things get misunderstood. Maybe you've been too casual about an issue, or your words sound crass and careless to the hurting, or your humour totally offends a reader. The ideal reaction in my opinion is to listen, validate, and then learn from the fallout. Becoming defensive is rarely a grand plan, nor is it particularly effective. Not that I'm not prone to all that. Defensiveness, curling up into a fetal position and crying for a month, breaking small appliances, and smoking menthols. All not terribly effective solutions. Most attempted.
But, what, may I ask is the difference between a writer who blogs and a writer who publishes a book? Books are full of opinions, sarcasm, personal anecdotes, private struggles, references to others. How come that's "okay"? Or is it the same, and those authors have developed certain coping skills to help them deal with hate mail and fallout?
After the conflicting discussions in my own mind, and the recent conversations of the weekend, I heard myself speculate that I'd likely begin posting fewer and fewer things, and make them increasingly more shallow. Then people would drop off, I'd have failed again, and I could go back to being a comfortable wanna-be.
How annoying is that? I'm sick of being a wanna-be. I'm sick of feeling like I need permission to fully exist. I'm absolutely not willing to push my own agenda at the cost of relationships, leaving a trail of wounded in my wake. But there must be a line between what one feels compelled to do and be, and learning to live in peace with others.
Epiphany to share, anyone?