May 05, 2005

Only sorta naked -- you'll thank me later

Proud to be among the panelists for blogHer's personal bloggers' panel. I remembered saying something I liked about blogging naked, so I searched my archives. This was a good one from 2003.
There is, it seems, a constant undercurrent of rumination in the blogworld over how much we say about ourselves, how much we tell, what we show, how far we go, what we don’t disclose, what we hide, where we pull up.

In other words: how public should we be?

I’m noted for being a blogger who’s pretty public, open, honest. I think I am. I hope so, because practicing being real in my blogging has helped me become moreso in my offline life… One feeds the other. I gain insight from the things I say here, insight that helps me be more real with myself.

My archives are testimony to me, they are me looking into my own rear view mirror, thinking things like: “What was I THINKING?” or “Wow, yes, it was like that,” or “I can’t believe I wrote that out loud…How many people read it?” The pattern of re-examination informs me. I grow because of it.

I think too many bloggers get trapped in a catch-22 over self-exposure, though. They start out with a few self-telling, honest, often painful posts, and suddenly put pressure on themselves to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth in all manner of all things on their blogs. Some of us who tend toward very public expression of very private places begin to feel an unreasonable responsibility for 24/7 exposure. Even begin to resent blogging. And who wouldn’t.

Perhaps pure-personal-truth-telling can be sustained, but does it need to be? Who puts the pressure on—-our readers or ourselves?

Unless we’re going to live here, naked, all of us, with a real time voice recording of the goings on inside our heads and hearts, we can’t sustain the open-wound model. And we shouldn’t have to.

At the same time, I’ve cycled through the next part of the honesty phase many times. The next phase is where I pull up. Don’t really have anything to say. Start thinking of deep dark secrets to reveal because the need to name and share these things is still present, but I’ve already told you most of what I want to tell you about the place I’m in.

Generally from there, I gravitate toward humor and absurdity, because that is a universal language. And even in those things, my state of mind is revealed to you.

We don’t need to share everything, you and I.

The important part for me is not writing about those edgy, private, risky places. It’s writing from those places. I have said that before. When deeply personal and volatile things—-real or imagined—-are going on in my life, my inclination is to share them here. But not always. What I do, when life issues are too close to the bone to share, is use the energy and passion and, yes, even panic and pain, to drive what I write here.

You see, so, it’s not writing about the events, it’s letting the associated emotions wash over you, digging down into them, and then writing from that place. Stepping down, as Cixous would say.

So maybe this post is my way of saying to those who have been wondering whether or not they’ve gone too far--those who are anxious about what they’ve written, not written, who knows, who doesn’t—-that you can use that very angst to power your writing. Even when you’re not writing about your current state of mind and heart, we can feel when you’re writing from it. Every single time.

Well, that’s how I do it. Or try to.