I’ve been tempted to deprive this blog of sustenance and let it die a horribly sadistic death. It’s a thief of time, of more serious writing, and though it’s a fun creative outlet, it often feels as if it is a monument to my self-centeredness.
Maybe this is just my issue, having been that vanquished middle child, oppressively sandwiched between two older and two younger very talkative and domineering sisters, as well as a loud, dynamic mother, all five of them conspiring to steal my creative soul for their own benefit until I felt guilty for speaking out. I’m sure that’s how it was. Though I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, my memory is otherwise faultless.
Being naturally introverted to begin with, I’ve never been comfortable talking over others or fighting for word space. As a writer, such difficulties are eliminated, only to discover the naked exposure of the unobstructed spotlight.
My father was also a quiet man. A loveless childhood left him seeking perpetual approval, too often resulting in self-focused diatribes whenever he did speak. Eventually I realized he’d passed on to me those importunate desires for acceptance (and perhaps a greater need for self-expression), so I became extremely self-conscious of my own self-absorption. Having a blog highlights those fears, and a lack of reader interest irrationally confirms them. After deciding to give this blogging business a go, I quickly felt the disinterested, philistine public say, please, take your ego elsewhere and stop wasting our time. We have too many other pressing matters. The dumbstruck housewives of superficial county are on, and there is the minor importance of keeping a roof over our heads and feeding our kids.
Even my own friends, those of the haughty literary kind, frown at the trifling irrelevance of blogs, as if they smack of desperation from sophomoric scribes. Real publishing is all that matters. They refuse to read them, including mine. To them, all this self-publishing just waters down the craft, creating an oceanic soup of mediocrity, each wannabe screaming for attention like starving birds.
Maybe there’s some truth to that, but what is better, millions freely expressing their creative endeavors like innocent children or having them all stew in smiting silence and frustration from the lack of an outlet?
I wonder if other artists share this problem. Do musicians worry about being labeled narcissistic tools because they’re playing their instruments for others to hear? No doubt some do, but do their fellow artists question having a website or blog in which to display their wares? I suspect this is more of a concern for the lowly labile writer. Music and drawing and photography are more easily consumed. Even if you don’t fully understand the self-expressions of the individual artists, you can still enjoy the results, and do so quickly. Writers, on the other hand, are not always so easily swallowed, especially with so many practicing the craft – to the point where we often have to argue that writing is indeed an art form.
Sometimes I wish I’d chosen a musical instrument for creative expression rather than the anguished pen. If nothing else, I could eke out a meager living as a limited player in a skanky hotel rock band wearing a leisure suit. Or I could stand on a street corner and put out a hat. Having a blog gives me an inkling of how that must feel, since most walk by without stopping, some snickering as they do so. I can feel the glances, the snarky looks – oh, who are you to stand on your soap box, on my street corner no less, as if you are the voice of knowledge and reason, when we all know you’re really just crying out for attention like a homeless dog in need of emotional nourishment?
But I’m a writer, I retort, and writing is about persistence, not success, though I wouldn’t mind a bit of the latter. There’s the old saying: writers must write (and musicians must play and painters must paint), which of course is true, because it’s all I know to do. I have no other skills, though I was once a menacing and largely unbeatable foosball player. For some reason that skill never paid off. So it’s either this or dwelling interminably in a drunken stupor, or being a lump on the couch unable to break away from the tube’s absorptive and mind-pilfering rays.
No calling, other than writing, has ever held my attention, with a pen as instrument, words as music, and thus this blog as street corner. After much consideration, even as most question the point of it all, I’ve decided to keep playing, despite the egotistical fulminations. I’ve even left a space for snarky comments, instead of a hat, for any who desire to leave them, though I’d be interested in how other artists of all kinds deal with this issue, if they do.