schadenfreude is so nutritious
i am searching for a close friend for news from a wrong planet. another blog which speaks to me. a blog twin.
a few years ago people who knew i was writing regularly used to ask me why i didn’t make a blog. my explanation was straightforward: i had no idea what a blog was; i had never looked at someone else’s blog, so why on earth would i ask anyone to read my own hypothetical blog? i am hugely grateful to a handful of friends who convinced me to overthrow those misgivings and have a bash at this blogging lark – specifically the thin man, the genius, and the producer; without their encouragement and practical help i would not be creating this project which has surprised me in so many ways, and has proved to be far more worthwhile and sustaining than i ever anticipated.
producing my blog galvanised me to attempt to familiarise myself with the blogging world in general. so i’ve been reading lots of blogs, and in particular lots by other ME and chronic illness people, since i began publishing mine. thus far the result of this research is that i feel like a stranger in the blogiverse (sorry). i have found blogs which are very well written and informative, but are also completely literal and bypass emotions and the inner life altogether. and i’ve found others which are extremely emotional, but not at all well written, and which strike me mostly as unacknowledged private therapy sessions – the kind of splurge stuff i wouldn’t want to inflict on anybody else. what julia cameron calls “morning pages”, and i call papers to be scrumpled up and chucked onto the fire.
these latter sorts of blogs bring to mind the writerly advice which favours “showing not telling”. although i am not particularly keen on this kind of guidance about writing, it seems inevitable that readers will feel patronised by – and be bored with – endless exposition. also, it perturbs me that so many of these types of blogs state an unspecified desire to “help others in similar situations”. i’m all for helping, and being helped; but it seems to me that there is a current epidemic of lay people setting out to save souls*. i have written about the power of resonance – that particularly validating type of recognition in which we see part of ourself or our experience mirrored back at us from something another has created. resonance can be a wonderful, profoundly consoling response. but it doesn’t work by prescription or self-conscious intent.
i was discussing my quest for blogs which i relate to with the model citizen recently. he pointed out that when he wrote his book about plastic toy figures it was on account of yearning to read such a book. and i remember hearing a member of the band the xx (not a band whose music i’ve ever enjoyed, but that is beside the point here) saying they started out making the kind of music which they wanted to listen to. perhaps i am writing the blog i want to read. perhaps. but if i am, that hasn’t stopped me wanting to find others which speak to me.
in my recent wanderings about the internet in search of connection, i encountered a motivational post titled “15 fatal blogging mistakes you are probably doing”. wow. this is exactly the kind of writing which draws me in for all the wrong reasons. this delicious piece proffers the advice that you need to include certain pages in your blog (pages which are not included in my own) because they “rank your site higher on google’s eyes”. wow again. oh, and i ought to mention that fatal mistake number 5 is “not proofreading”!?
but this is cheap fun. i recognise that i am trying to assuage all my doubts and fears regarding my own writing inadequacies by spending a few minutes wallowing in writing which is measurably a lot worse than mine. and i think i know why this sort of material holds such fascination for me – i think it is because through all those times when i’m shrivelling up inside because i can’t find the words to say what i want to, and all the extended periods i endure convinced i will never publish anything again – through all those dark episodes i’m desperate to understand how come there are so many other bloggers who not only never question their abilities, but also keep announcing how talented they are, and who hold themselves up as models of inspiration.
but like i said, this is cheap fun. and it is lazy comfort. after all, two wrongs don’t make a write.
*annoyingly, quite a number of readers respond to posts making such claims with comments saying how helpful they are. but that’s not my problem.
this makes think about why we create and the tension between self expression and validation. so many people now are just chasing hits. thank fck you’re not.
I didn’t know you knew Julia Cameron
Thank you, caraswrong, for this highly creative, intelligent and original blog. I love your voice. I was going to go off on a long rant about how e-commerce has colonised the internet and largely devastated the blogging community but you’re out there and others are out there. ’15 fatal blogging mistakes you are probably doing’ probably boils down to valuing expression, discourse and the written word higher on your list of priorities than search engine optimisation and selling ad-space. Way to go!