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.
Love this. Very real – in many, many ways. Never mind what others say – you express yourself extremely creatively & that should feed your soul even though it does not feed your stomach. Your Dad would love this – he so wanted to be able to express himself in writing but did not have your abilities.
Thanks – if only I could put out a hat, maybe I’d at least get an occasional meal 🙂
How skinny are you???
i’ve had this line of thought at times, but i quickly come back to my desire to create/write, and finding a comfortable place to do so, and then it all goes away again. you are so right on when you say many people don’t see writing as an art form, but then i think they just don’t get it, the sweat and tears that go into wordsmithing, just like any other challenging trade. their problem, not mine. i’m glad you’ve decided to stay a bit longer..
Thanks – I think it’s because everyone can write a little, whereas not everyone can play an instrument or draw, etc., so creative writing can be less appreciated. So many times someone I know has said to me that some day they are going to write a book. They’ve never tried to do so before, they don’t write anything else other than emails, and yet they think they’re going to sit down and crank out a book without ever having practicing their instrument (pen).
Well, ghostwriters do good business. Lots of people don’t actually write, but use ghostwriters.
Great piece! And pay no mind to the anti-blog snobs, James. Just keep writing.
Thanks Judy. I’ll always continue to write, I’ve just struggled with the blog idea, though I think I’ve cleared that up with this piece with the street corner analogy. Thanks for stopping by. I keep waiting for the dust to clear over at your site 🙂
Funny : ) Still writing here, too, though not for popular consumption. I might pop back in again with a poem or two. Thanks for drive-through, James. Have a great rest of summer!
Blogs allow us to self edit, to consider the suggestions of others, and to put what we do right out in front of many eyes in our own way, in our own time, and on our own terms. I’m glad that you will keep on keeping on:)
Thanks Elena, you have a good attitude about it. I’ve been a work in progress. 🙂
Interesting post, James. For me, blogging and writing are both niche activities done out of necessity rather than boredom. It’s a liberating experience to be able to write and share with the world, even if it means toiling away for hours at a time in isolation.
People that denounce these activities are not on the same wavelength as us. Pay them no mind, and focus on your craft.
Thanks Millis. Maybe it’s a generational thing – the anti-bloggers I know tend to be closer to my age.
Please keep this going , Jim. Although I am no artist, and consider myself at best a mediocre musician, your ability to communicate through words is wonderful! You make so many valid points and illuminate many details that many of us would miss without your taking the time to so delightfully point them out . Thanks for being honest, vulnerable , and courageous!
Thanks, Maria, you’re very kind. And I’ve heard you play; I know you are so much more than mediocre.
I have felt the same sentiments about my own writing, but keep going anyway. Glad you decided to keep writing!
Thanks, Karen, your comment is very much appreciated.
There is little, if anything, in my opinion, more beautiful than the written word. I often marvel at the creative use of the English language and the artistry of a gifted writer to express opinions, create mystery, paint portraits and leave us wanting for more. Good job Jim. Well written. I’ve always longed for the ability to express my thoughts creatively.
Thanks, Cindy. I feel the same way about the written word, and the more I study and practice it, the more I appreciate it. And I still long to be better than I am. Practice, practice, practice…
I’ve been thinking about this too, lately. And I agree with you.
By the way, I love your writing style. Especially the first line of this post. Ah, good humor.
Thanks, Moniba, it seems to go around with us writers 🙂
Hi James – this is quite a heartfelt post. I think many writers share these sentiments. Each of us has a talent, and we need to use it, whether it’s singing, carpentry, painting, plumbing or poetry. You don’t choose your talent. So, keep on writing! (BTW, I grew up sandwiched between two brothers, which just made me more opinionated I think).
Thanks, Shery, hmm, what’s tougher, growing up between 2 brothers or 4 sisters 🙂