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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sabotage

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?

19 comments:

Heather said...

Some people do the impersonal style blogs well with every bit of who they are neatly tucked away from sight--I hate those and seldom read them--they are similar to the people who get all sorts of plastic surgery and wear tons of makeup trying to hide the person they are behind fluff. I hate fluff.

I like the real and the honest. It is what I write. It is what my husband writes on his blog. Sure we write about very different things--we write about what interests us and what is important to us.

Be you. Some people will reject it just as some people reject the person behind the blog (and boy have I been rejected..:)) Yet, in the end you will know that you did not put up a false front, that you didn't hide, that you were true. And truth is important.

Anonymous said...

This world needs more honesty. If people stopped pretending to have it all together then maybe all of us who know we don't have it all together wouldn't feel so crappy all of the time.

I, like you (i think), am a wear-it-out-on-my sleeve kinda gal. So I am allll for you saying what you want. BUT I do censor a bit for people I respect. I'm still honest but I also keep in mind that my 80 year old militant grandparents are reading so I try and at least keep it clean for them. I also don't do any husband-bashing out of respect for the inlaws...and my husband.

I think you will find your happy medium. If you lose a few readers that's fine. You have great things to say and it's always soooo nice when I can relate to you because it makes me feel better.

PS...didn't Christ raise lots of controversy and perhaps offend some people as well?? hmmmmmm

mmichele said...

I thought that a blog was whatever you, the writer, wanted it to be. So if someone doesn't like it the way you do it, well, they could just stop reading.

No?

Roo said...

ahh. joyce. this post has sent so much swirling inside me. i can't even comment intelligibly because i have too much to say about it. and too much to say that doesn't quite make sense when i start to type it out. :)

but...i do know this and that is...
you, my friend are CoLoRfUl. i don't think you could succeed at shallow-posting for long.

that and -- i like you and i believe you have a gift. it's the birthing process to bring forth that gift that is hard, heh?

joyce said...

good words, my friends.

I must admit, when I read Michele's comment, I got sort of a wry half grin. It's no wonder I trust you/ enjoy you even though I don't pysically know you. You cut through the fat so well, don't you? So reminds me of the people from whence i came, and I find it refreshing. What you say is... simply... true. The blog is what the blogger bloggity well blogs it to be.

(is blog in msn encarta?! Maybe it comes with 55 pages of fine print of do's and don'ts?! sometimes all this thinking is ridiculous and painful.

Judy said...

I struggle with this also.

I feel as if I am in a prison of ideas. Whenever I chase one down, it turns around, snarls, bares it's teeth and I bolt.

So, I'm still sorting buttons.

There is a side of me that has NEVER appeared on my blog. It's the unfinished book. It's unfinished because I wish it to have a happy ending, but that looks less likely as time goes on.

I believe that the 'waiting for the happy ending' is what stops me. Like so many others, I'm wishing for a fairy godmother to deliver me from my troubles, instead of accepting the wounds of a redeemer who will walk with me through my troubles.

Happpy everafter sells books. Bloody, scared and obedient is less marketable.

Anonymous said...

Joyce-keep writing what's real to you. I agree with the other "poster", people don't have to read it. Everyone has a choice to change the channel and close the book.
I tell my grade 2 and 3 students that good writers write about what they know-and you know good food, good people, humor, sadness, struggles and speaking your mind. Keep it up
Carolyn

Romeo Morningwood said...

"Shallots are for Babies, Onions are for Adults, but Garlic, is for Heroes."

It's YOUR Blog!

"If thine post offends thee, enable comment moderation."

gloria said...

I am not as brave as you are.

I need my blog to be personal and crude sometimes because that is how i purge and heal, but I am too chicken to keep it public, and that limits me too.

do what i couldn't do, ignore the nay-sayers and critics and do write what you want for crying out loud. everyone has to have a way to deal, ask them if they could give up theirs.

joyce said...

I guess the bottom line is that I hate rejection. When you don't live as loudly, people don't have as many reasons to reject you. I'll have to find a way to cope with the knowledge that some people intensely dislike me. That ought to be okay, because that ought not to change who I REALLY am and why would I want to surround myself with people who can't stand the real me? That would just be stupid?

Romeo Morningwood said...

Hopefully you'll learn to thrive on rejection and accept being intensely disliked like I did.
Meh. It's not so bad.

Just repeat my mantra...
I know YOU are,
but what am I infinity!?

it's a gong show... said...

i had to smile when you mentioned being a "wanna-be" because when i read your stuff, it flows so beautifully and is always uninhibited and i "wanna-be" you joycie! i wish i could post what is actually going on in my life, in my mental struggles (that are fierce right now) but i just can't. i wish i could. i think purging my struggles would help so very much but my heart is a delicate one. i can't handle what would be said about me behind the scenes. "oh there goes brandy again, playing for the selkirk steelers"

apparently i rambled again. sorry. PLEASE don't stop what you are doing. sometimes sitting down and reading your thoughts keeps me going.

love ya. you are one very special lady!

Anonymous said...

Someone once said to me, If a person criticizes you, weigh out their words with care. If what they say has an ounce of truth, respond accordingly. If what they say has no value, then throw it out and carry on.

My response, "Carry on my friend!"

And regarding menthols...it's been a long time since I indulged. It was probably with you over a gin and tonic. :'D

Marshkies said...

Follow your heart, Joyce. not everyone likes it, and that's ok. ...advice from your big sister. Love you!

Anonymous said...

I think blogging is a great avenue for people to be real and honest about issues and daily events they are going through. People wander around through life, sporting these incredible masks in order to hide their demons. It's refreshing to me to be able to hear someone's inner thoughts and struggles. I then know I'm not alone in this struggle called life! I blog as well. I have received much flack for "journalling" as well, so much so that it basically got me kicked out of a church. Talk about having to re-evaluate the use of a blog! But, I came to the conclusion, that more people enjoyed my honesty about my feelings and thoughts than not, so I will continue.
So, my advice to you is...continue on my blogging sister!

joyce said...

welcome Jenn! (I don't think you are the Jenn that I know?) You have good things to say, and a story to tell as well. Wish you'd left your link, I'd love to check it out. Come back.

Brandy- I have lots to say in response to your comment. I'm always so happy when you leave me a tidbit. You've been brave as well, my love, and had a strip torn off of you. It stings for a long time.

Donn- I like that you used the past tense "as I did". Does that mean that the period of people disliking you was only for a time, and then you found yourself surrounded by a new crowd of cheering fans?! or do you mean that you got used to rejection and you haven't looked back. Now you laugh rejection in the face?

Gloria, i don't know if I'm braver. Maybe I just have less scratch marks so far. And I'm inside all the freeking time so I don't really know who is whispering about me. It's all done OUT THERE while I'm faithfully IN HERE.

Carolyn- this I like:

you know good food, good people, humor, sadness, struggles and speaking your mind.

It's true, and it's my story.
Read it or leave it.
(BUT FOR GOODNESS SAKES, CAN YOU JUST LIKE ME, PLEEEEEEEEEEEASE?!)
woops. Did I just post that out loud? How embarrassing....

Melissa said...

no epiphanies here but if it helps, I like you.

joyce said...

oooooooooooooh, it helps!! Makes me feel squishy soft inside.

wm said...

Oh, please don't compromise and whittle your blog away until it becomes politically/socially/emotionally correct! That's just no fun. And now and again I come by here and sneek a peek, and I enjoy every minute of it!!!