I had a dream the other night and it wasn’t so much what happened in the dream that was disturbing. It was the realization that the me who was in the dream was thinking “and I’ll put this in the blog later.”
I go around and around with whether to keep writing here. Sometimes it’s enjoyable, having a little structure and a few friends and strangers who check in and who I like to check in on. Sometimes it’s more like torture – wondering what’s it all for, thinking I should be accomplishing things instead of reaching for the quick fix. Sometimes it feels like excellent writing practice and some kind of discipline, and other times it feels like the very opposite of that.
I started writing online in 1999, a tour diary that I updated a few times a year. I would pour myself into those entries, spend hours on each one. I kind of missed the whole blogging thing when it started, maybe because I had little or no internet connection. I barely wrote my diary for a year or two due to the fact that there was not much going on in my life that I was willing to share with the very small part of the world that might be interested.
And then when I got back online a few years ago, I saw there was this whole world of parent blogs. In one way I wished they would’ve been around when my daughter was young, but at the same time I wondered if I’d have written notebooks and cassettes and albums worth of songs, if I’d had such easy access to sharing with people. And then when I got to France I found the expat blog world. I believe it’s been a really helpful thing for me. Who wants to hear “Song Cycle From A Cow Pasture” or “Size 44 Ain’t As Big As It Sounds”, anyway? I’ve loved seeing how other people cope and adapt to their new lives in France.
I go back and forth between thinking I should just accept that it’s part of my life and enjoy the sharing (didn’t I come up with all kinds of reasons to stop writing last summer, and didn’t I come back in, timidly waving “I’m still here” a few months later?)
On Sunday I was reading the NY Times online – oh how I miss being able to read the actual paper. I try to make do with the local Populaire which features scintillating news such as “three umbrellas were found in the cinema in Saint Junien last weekend” (that’s good, but did they ever find my gloves?) and got caught up in a Sunday Magazine article by this young woman, Emily Gould, and her trip down the rabbit hole of blogging. Though a lot of the choices she made in her personal and work life were just plain stupid (and the accompanying photos reinforce the false drama of the whole thing), I thought it was a good description of how the lines between living and blogging can get a little (or in her case, a whole lot) blurry.
But even more interesting than the article was the reaction of Times readers. People are so incensed that this woman’s story is not Times-worthy that the online version of the paper has taken the drastic step of shutting down the comments section.
It’s reassuring, somehow, that there are still huge numbers of people out there who use the internet but don’t blog, hate blogging, have no interest in it. It makes me feel like I could always step away. Life would go on, just like it did when I was traveling a week or two ago. But didn’t I find myself checking into a sleazy internet cafe to post, “just this once”? At the same time there are the people whose writing I enjoy reading. I love checking in on what they’re up to. There’s something reassuring in thinking maybe I’m that, for someone else. Not for long with posts like this, probably. I wonder how other people do it. Write, I mean. Without feeling conflicted.