I started a blog about my life (some version of it, really), kept it up for six years and then closed it unceremoniously. The last part, I was told, was an anti-climax so I re-opened the blog. Before we dive all the way back into oversharing my life, here are a few things that occurred to me about writing a personal blog.
1. You can get trapped in performing your own art
My writing was meant to stretch the range of my craft. Yet, it would go into the world and represent itself as a window into my soul, sexuality, personal life or state of mind. Of course, my writing came from inside of me. So it was inherently related to me. Was it strictly a cry for help, an invitation to play naughty or a declaration of battle? Hardly. Yet, when it was interpreted as such, I felt compelled to respond as if it, in the first place, had been. I become a radical advocate for the perspectives I blogged from. When readers reached out, over my often bleak poetry, I took their sympathy. When some people extrapolated from the naughtier writing, I got carried away pushing my boundaries. I am not entirely sure how to feel about all that but please be kind. If, in life I imitated my art with you, destroy all evidence thereof. Please. It is the noble thing to do.
2. It improved my writing
Especially in the years when hardly a soul read it, the blog was good for my writing. They say writing is a muscle and it must be exercised. I have never been the kind to keep a journal. I talk to myself, instead. So, blogging was how I exercised that muscle. It improved my writing and perhaps because it did, I started getting some attention. That’s when things got tricky as above and below.
3. You create a first impression that is hard to get past
Piece by piece I collaged a seemingly full portrait of myself. It proved to be a trap. Often, when I meet people for the first time, the novelty is mine alone. To them, I’m a known character or more accurately, one piece of the character. What piece I am, depends on what post(s), they have read. Jokes don’t land with people who have already decided they loath my feminist ideas. Trying to pass myself off as a fully complex human being with people who come to the blog for those sex posts is like trying to store oxygen by closing my fist. But perhaps the most disturbing consequence is being seen as fair game for harassment online. The trolls. Those trolls. May their groins itch forever and may their hands be too short to scratch them.
4. It may kill your patience for more rigorous writing
As an occupational writer, I used to be able to graciously take two, three, even five rounds of edits and copy reads. Having to research and report before writing was the minimum I could do. Then I started blogging -- typing out 2500 words in a single sitting and publishing it without a second glance. Now, when I have to write for an editor, their comments on my work hurt me. In an almost physical way. Even just the anticipation of them, makes my original drafts stiff. Oh, and researching before you write… Isn’t that just tedious?
5. It is a real-time invention of your own history
On the occasions when people asked me why I blogged, I would say, “because I exist.” And, I maintain that is a fine reason to. Being as self-aggrandising as the kind of person who writes about herself for six years, I tend to remember all my life experiences as having been truly remarkable. I don’t remember chatting. No, I pertook of conversations that spun minds around. I won grand arguments or brought down the bar roof, trying. My one-off meetings belong in great literature, even if only for their off-colouredness. The interpersonal dramas that I have been party to, will definitely result in interesting scenes at my funeral.
The extent to which my memories of self are accurate, is irrelevant. I wrote them down. My life experiences as I want them remembered; as I want to remember them. That makes them real or at least the most real account of my life out there. A written down account. All other accounts are merely hearsay. Now I know how all those dodgy people in history tricked us into erecting statues of them all over the place. And I have taken some of that for myself. It should feel corrupt. It doesn’t. It feels very good indeed. I don’t know if you can reinvent yourself but you certainly can invent your history. I recommend it.
Normal broadcasting of intimate details will begin shortly…