Some people tap out coherent, meaningful, witty blog posts in thirty minutes flat, but me? I ponder, handwrite, think, procrastinate, take pictures, write more, type, backspace, procrastinate, edit, write, twiddle my thumbs, edit, and post. And edit again.
Why do I do this? I ask myself this question frequently, but especially on days when writing feels like I’m scrip-scraping my nails down a blackboard. On those days I host mega-pity parties, complete with dunce caps and boo-horns. You’re wasting your time, I tell myself. No one cares. Your voice is just one among millions, cluttering up the airwaves. Just shut up and go thin the radishes. At least you can eat radishes.
Who is this blog for anyway? I write it, but you read it. The line between us can get pretty blurry sometimes. Who comes first? You or me? Me or you?
The answer is “me,” of course. (The answer is always “me.”) But I write for you, too.
However, I write for me first. I have to. I started this blog for me, and no matter how big (or not big) this blog gets, it’s still for me.
Sometimes I think I would like to be famous. I imagine crowds of people flocking to fawn over me, peppering me with questions, stroking my ego, telling me I’m Something Special. If that were the case, I imagine, my heart would continually beat out the I-just-got-a-compliment happy-rush pitter-patter and my cheeks would be forever rosy, the blush of the humble star.
My imagination embarrasses me sometimes.
The other week I listened to a music group get interviewed on NPR. The group had been singing together for many years and had only just recently made it to The Big Time. The interviewer asked them if they ever thought about what it would’ve been like if they had made it big back when they first started out. One guy said that, yes, he thinks about it, and he believes it would’ve changed their group considerably. We’ve had to work really hard, all the time, he said. Young singers who come out of the starting box and go straight to the top, they don’t fully appreciate all they have gained. We, on the other hand, savored every little success. Each one was a gift that made us so over-the-top happy. We wouldn’t have enjoyed them or even noticed them if we had been instant successes.
I’m fairly certain I’m never going to be famous. I don’t have the potential for it, nor do I think I actually want to be famous, all daydreaming to the contrary. But ever since I heard that interview I’ve been noticing how much I really do appreciate all the little happy moments (or sweet “successes”) that come to me through this blog (or in any part of my life, though this is my only consistent public presence, if you don’t count sitting on the front row of church every Sunday). This past week has been full of little hugs—sweet emails, phone calls, notes in the comments, and verbal recipe compliments. Each one makes my insides feel like champagne, bubbly and fizzy-sweet.
But good feelings only last for a few moments, maybe a day, tops. Then the euphoria wears off and I’m back to the grind, tap-tap-tapping, editing, thinking, and posting it all into the great void of nothingness. Most days there aren’t many (if any) comments, no I-love-your-food compliments, no emails, no phone calls. It’s just me doing my thing. Period.
And you know what? That’s okay! I realize my hand is forced in this matter (sour grapes, perhaps), but when it comes down to it, this strict regimen of fingertip tap-dance is something I enjoy. It’s my outlet, my discipline, my love. For all my griping and hair-pulling, I do enjoy the process, tedious though it may be.
I’m not sure what the point of sharing this is. I run the risk of sounding vain (I can be) and self-seeking (I am). I think what I’m trying to say is this: the internet is weird. It twists together the personal and public in some grotesque and awkward ways. The gift of instant feedback is also a curse. It turns writing, a thoughtful, ponderous process (for me), into a ping-pong game—I write, you talk; ping-pong, ping-ing, pong-ong. In many ways, this fast give-and-take trivializes the writing process. There’s too much, too fast, too often.
The challenge for me is to practice my art, yet keep my integrity; to write for myself, yet hold my audience in front of me; to say what I need to say, yet limit myself from writing too much. Because the internet is a void that could eat me alive.
I’m just keeping it honest, folks. That’s all. The internet whips my butt some days, and other days it puts me on cloud nine. It’s a struggle, keeping my feet on steady ground.
It’s a good thing there are some radishes out there in the garden that need to be thinned.