Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Questions on the nature of blogging

I've had two questions in the comments that have really made me think. I hadn't substantively responded to either yet because they both connect to the same larger issue and I was thinking about how I would like to address that issue.

The first was UU-Mom commenting on my proposed DC blogger get-together:

"You know blogging, and especially blog reading, can be almost full-time and most of us do other things. When would we have time for this get-together? And traveling to Boston on top of it"

That one knocked the wind out of me for a minute. I had not even considered not making time for a DC blog get together, and I will likely go to Boston again.

To clarify, I do other things. I have a day job and I teach test preparation some nights. I am a YRUU leader and active volunteer for my church, I have family obligations and as theCSO keeps reminding me, we're supposed to be remodeling the house. My marriage is very important to me and my husband and I spent a lot of time together. Few political or intellectual ideas show up here that I haven't first talked out with him. I have a bunch of long distance friendships and I spend lots of time on the phone and visiting people or having guests and I also go out with friends and theCSO's friends here. And I read a lot. And I finished my first novel a couple of months ago.

But that question and my own reaction did point out very clearly how important blogging is to me.

I've been blogging in some senses for years and years. I've had a website of one type or another for over ten years and I have written *something* almost every day of my adult life. I really have to have things in front of my before I can process them. Before beliefnet, it was keeping up with my closest friends through near-daily emails. When I was on Beliefnet, theCSO would frequently complain that I should be collecting my writing in some way and I frequently wished I could edit my posts. Blogging lets me do both.

I have, and have always had, this urge to get my thoughts out on paper and provide some proof of my own existance. I'm aware that at this point, like the Diaries of Anais Nin if I may flatter myself with the comparision, my blog is probably less interesting for the writing quality or newness of ideas and more so for the overall picture it paints of a developing intellectual consciousness. I'd rather be read for writing like a master swordsman and ideas of deep profundity, but my blog is what it is, and it's hard to write well in the immediacy of some moments.

So in this sense, I do regard my frequent commenters (you know who you are) as a sort of intellectual family. One of my bigger regrets about last year was that I was in Northern California for five days and never made it over to see Kim. Psyton is TheCSO's childhood best friend and I substantively keep in contact with him through theChaliceblog. (Though we have a standing tradition of spending Christmas eve together.)

I go through trends of writing about different things because different things interest me at different times. I write about politics, religion and my personal life as the mood strikes. Expect to see a bit more on my family and my spiritual development in the coming month or so as I am reading a book on spiritual memoir. That said, I'm not going to be getting all gushy. Every now and again, I get a breathless email informing me that my experiences with my criminal brothers have shaped my political views or that the closeness of my friendship with LinguistFriend (who is much older than I am) has its roots in my rather complicated relationship with my parents. Lest anyone should be concerned, I have thought of these things and there is of course truth to each of those insights. I tend to think such things work better as subtext, though.

And yes, it is well worth it for me to set aside a Saturday afternoon or even a weekend to go hang out with my fellow bloggers and swap ideas and actually look at the faces of the people whose words I read sometimes every day.

Probably another root of UU-Mom's and my differing feelings on this issue is that UU-mom is presumably a mom. Given the time that children can take up, it doesn't surprise me that there are fewer bloggers with young children.

OK, other question:

LRC asked why I sometimes write in the third person. The short answer is "I don't know, it just feels natural to do so sometimes."

That I'm a big fan of Miss Manners is probaly a part of it, as Psyton notes. I think another part of it is that the person who writes the Chaliceblog and Chalicechick are not 100 percent the same. Sometimes Chalicechick can say something that the person who writes her is still working out in her own head and the third person say be just an attempt to get a little distance.

I consciously call my family and husband by nicknames including Chalice (e.g. the Chalicemom) as a subtle reminder to both readers and myself that any charictarization of them is very much from my own perspective. I don't intend to do a hatchet job on anyone and I have even considered renaming The Sabina Fallacy, particularly since I read an article someplace about the kind way Jackie O treated Marilyn Monroe. The analogy between those two and Sabina and myself isn't direct, but the article did remind me that even people who behave badly deserve to be treated well, at least in the public sphere.

LRC is not the first person I respect to bring up that the writing about myself in the third person sounds a little odd. Another friend has made the point that it makes my writing less clear. I do pay attention to such concerns and seem to be doing it less than I used to.

But my blog posts are largely stream of consciousness and only barely edited. Sometimes, things come out of my brain in the third person and I'm inclined to leave them that way.

For now.



Anonymous said...

that the closeness of my friendship with LinguistFriend (who is much older than I am) has its roots in my rather complicated relationship with my parents.

I submit that this is essentially a healthy phenomenon. To feel something is missing from your life and then to go find it in an non-exploitive relationship is a "good thing". Psychotherapy is essentially "re-parenting" so why not arrange some less artificial "re-parenting"?

Anonymous said...

As I re-read what I just wrote (typo and all), it occurred to me that I should say something about healing and wholeness: I think the biggest miracle in the world is our drive to wholeness and healing -- both physical and mental. It is what makes life as we know it possible and wonderful. Our unconscious minds try to get us what we need. Unfortunately, we often do it wrong, but we try. I think that's beautiful.

Chalicechick said...

I'm sure it is basically healthy thing.

I always found myself befriending professors in college and otherwise getting along well with people older than I am. When I was twenty or so, I felt that people my own age hadn't read much, done much or been many interesting places. The older I get, the more interesting my peers get.

As for the family stuff, possibly that marine analogy applies here too that when seeking something we haven't had before is a conscious effort, we are liable to create trouble. I tend to think some combination of our subconscious and that which is transcendent will take care of these things if we allow them to take the subtle approach.

I try to let those aspects of the way I end up closer to some people than others largely take care of themselves.

But I do think it is sort of queer that because I don't typically write about these dynamics, people think I don't know they are there.


Anonymous said...

Did someone say they didn't think you know they are there?

Chalicechick said...

I get a breathless email (usually from a lurker) every once in awhile delivering some insight to my character that the writer seems to assume I don't know about.


PeaceBang said...

As far as UU-Mom's comment, what a snotty, judgmental thing to say! You don't need to defend yourself, CC, and explain that you have a life.
Gag. Hey "Mom," if you don't have the time to attend a gathering, don't come. We won't miss you. Take good care.

Anonymous said...

Hey CC, just wanted to say (since I am guessing the DC blog-together was around the AAR? Or not?) that I am sorry I missed you then. It was a pretty hectic time, especially commuting from Annapolis to DC daily for that.

On the topic of blogging, I think all of us are really busy. Most of the bloggers I read who I enjoy seem to be the type of people who have a hard time saying "no" to things because they enjoy so much. That also helps cross-pollinate our thinking, as you point out in your conversations with the CSO.

I always enjoy your thinking and I understand why you use a pseudonym for the sake of distance. Despite being on record as an advocate of non-anonymity, I don't have problems with it, or 3rd person references, if they aren't used to wield a heavy, sarcastic stick.

Anyway, haven't had time to comment much on anyone's blogs (sorry for that!) but thought I'd pop in and give my 1.5 cents.

Anonymous said...

Doh. Just realized this is a really old thread that got put into my RSS feeder as new. Probably due to updating tags?

Oh well. I still mean what I said :)