I read this article from the New York Times the other day about how the word "authentic" has become a catchphrase that doesn't mean very much anymore. My friend V, in the "about me" section of her blog, talks about "trying to live a more authentic life"--and you can tell from her writing that it does mean something when she says it. Maybe because many of her posts--just about her life--her goals, academic, professional, relationship, fashion-related--never obscured the trying.
As a writer who has spent a fair amount of time browsing job listings, I see that a lot of blogs out there want "content creators." I get it. It's a blog about fashion or technology or celebrity mishaps. Writing has to know what it is, and have focus, and, to be successful, it has to attract readers who don't care at all about the writer. But a result of that a lot of blogs out there have "content" about recipes or pop-culture, and not so many have "writing" about the human condition. This blog was about the human condition. The writer talked about the struggles of living with disability, trying to be healthier and happier, trying to construct a beautiful environment conducive to being healthier and happier. She talked about being queer, she talked about being fat, she talked about sexuality and clothes and making professional decisions...but whatever she talked about, it was thoughtful. There was often an element that went beyond reportage, slipped beneath the surface, and revealed a bit of her. It was a generous blog.
Although I seldom think to leave comments on blogs, I did leave one in response to her farewell post. In it I talked about how that C.S. Lewis adage that "we read to know we are not alone." I think it would be fair to change the words a bit and say reading helps us feel less alone. But to me, that feels almost flipped on its head today. Particularly if I am reading on the internet, I can end up feeling more alone. But reading her blog was definitely the former experience--less alone feeling, all the way.
It is on my mind today, because V is not the first of my writer friends to bring her personal blog to an end for professional reasons--both because such exposure of one's personal life can be detrimental, and because, let's face it--if you are blogging, that means you are not writing material that can be published and will contribute to your success as a professional writer, which is the goal, is it not? Eyes on the prize. I'm writing this right now--and I am NOT working on my novel, and I really need to be working on the novel. (I haven't been blogging much recently, because I HAVE been working on my novel, so, "yay me" for that.)
My friends who have left behind their journals and personal blogs are, pretty much across the board, achieving more success and publications than I am. I genuinely love seeing that, and I genuinely want that for myself. But this doesn't change the fact that the professional websites they've created, while necessary for their pursuits, are not a replacement for what I have lost-- the pleasure of hearing their voices in my head as I read these less important words on my computer screen, of having little insights into their daily lives and inner lives--insights that are somehow different from those I gain with an email or phone call, or, when we lived in the same town, even meeting in person. The stuff that one "throws out there" in a blog has a different energy to it. Maybe because when we speak to a faceless readership, there's some part of us that ends up just speaking to ourselves, and the readers are just listening in?
I keep coming back to this blog, my blog. I'm not sure all the reasons why. I think one is that I don't just read to fell less alone, but I write to feel less alone. And while I occasionally check my readership numbers, at least some of the less-aloneness comes from somewhere else...from the sense that out in the world, other people are also thinking and writing, and reveling in the feel of reflecting on their lives. I find that a comfort. I don't feel the same camaraderie when I'm writing a screenplay and I think of all the other glowing MacBooks across Los Angeles.
This has dissolved into a ramble, hasn't it? I could try to shape it--but I have to get back to that novel. But to summarize: Farewell to V's blog. And, for the moment I continue. Stop by. I'll try to be here.