The other day I opened my inbox to find an email about a comment on a blog post I wrote nearly 8 years ago on a blog 4 steps removed from this blog. Hello, blast from the paaaast.
It was a reminder that those words are still out there on the internet. I have been writing about my life on blogs for eight years. Eight years! From my dorm days in college in Minnesota, blogging about the boy I liked, my dreams, and my weekend plans to ex-pat life in Australia writing a blog about the boy I like, my life, and my weekend plans. Life really is wild, isn’t it!?
Looking back, my blogging has changed over time. In college and for a few years after, I assumed about 3 people read my blog, so I wrote whatever I wanted. Which tended to echo the things I’d tell my 3 readers in real-life when I talked to them. I’d delve much more deeply into my personal life and its dramatics (which at the time were ever-present) than I would feel comfortable doing today. In fact, sometimes I look back and cringe a bit about the things I said about other people, about my life, and about my then-love.
But, despite making me uncomfortable now, these posts were real, candid, and completely unfiltered – often posted on whim without even a cursory proofread. In that sense, they were beautiful too. Reading them, I get a sense of who I was then and how I’ve grown up.
Lately I have been thinking about this a lot. I have struggled in recent months to write a blog that abides by my initial blogging goals of interpreting life and love through the natural world. In the last couple years, I have experienced SO much growth and change in the realms of life and love, and I have been reluctant to address it here for personal reasons. I mean, how does one write about life and love in the throes of falling in love with one person and out of love with another? It’s the most lurching, hectic, wonderful time to delve into the crazy feelings that accompany such shifts, and also the most treacherous.
In theory, I believe in sharing your experience. As much of it as seems appropriate to you. The more real the better. Relate your story in whatever artful, crazy, and fun way you see fit. But, as my life has taken shape, the words of my past have proven problematic for me. For the most part I have let these situations roll off my back as a consequence of choosing to blog about my life. But, as I’ve grown up I’ve realized there are more than 3 readers of my blog, and not all of them are my friends. It’s changed the way I blog.
So, in thinking about this, I decided that rather than stew on it, I’d put it out there on the blogosphere and see if anyone else could relate. How does one pursue writing of a personal nature on a blog without regret? How do I accurately relate my history and what colors my views knowing these words will be here indefinitely and that others may not read them through the eyes of friends or people who care about me, but perhaps even as one who actively dislikes me – who wants to use my words against me? How do I address these considerations when I have many years of blogging ahead and behind me to consider?
I have been told that my blog is special because of my writing style and my authenticity in expressing my feelings. So, it’s a real worry to lose that. But, during the course of a bad break-up a few years ago up my blog became a tool for the people I dated (and who my ex dated) to “research” on me – weird as that might sound. It has been an issue in my life and theirs, so I’ve tried to rein in my writing to protect the innocent. Censorship is a sad thing, people. You missed some juicy shit.
Was it wrong to write in the past so unabashedly about my feelings (hotheaded, sorrowful, jubilant) as I traveled through an incredibly turbulent relationship? I don’t know. Looking back on it and my writings, I got a bit confused. Was I in the wrong? What’s the price of authenticity?
So, to help me put things into perspective I did a bit of research about writers and how they think and talk about writing. Apparently in 1962, Jack Kerouac, one of my all-time favorite writers, wrote an article about whether writers are born or made, which closed with the line “it ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.” In some ways I have to agree with him. It should be about the beauty and realness of the words you write, the content should be a conduit for the expression of experience. In that sense, I don’t feel too bad for delving into my personal life – though I still do have some regrets. He also said that one should write as if she is the first person on earth, experiencing everything for the first time. In that sense, I guess I feel like I’ve honestly written like that – a lot. I never claimed I wasn’t a bit narcissistic.
Kerouac, man! Good advice! And obviously that guy knows a thing or two about unfiltered writing, but I wonder if he ever looked back and thought, “I should have really taken it easier on so-and-so?” I doubt it. He says never to apologize, and I tend to believe him, except of course when apologies are heartfelt and real and seem to make the world better. Except when you write whatever you feel like on your blog and with the click of a button it’s public. What then, Jack?
Of course, Kerouac wasn’t a blogger. I wonder what he would have said had he been. That’s a blog I’d follow – though maybe he’d be more of a twitterer. Hard to say, really. Maybe he would have blogged like me though – tracing an evolution from specificity and realness to generality and artifice; hiding too raw feelings, and too wild trains of thought under edits that slowly kill one’s voice. Would he have been bold enough to tread the path of continuing to speak openly, directly about his experience here on earth? He probably would have, and that makes me feel like a real wimp.
My blog has always been a means for me to write about and consequently, understand my life. And in having to censor my writing and my self-reflection here over the last couple years, I have felt a real loss – a disappointing chasteness. What is a personal blog if not a running narrative of the way one looks out at their own life? And if the narrative is dictated by the external pressures then it simply isn’t your narrative – it’s someone else’s narrative. I’m hoping to take back my narrative and re-gain my mojo. I have been reading some hilarious shit in the blogging world, I feel inspired, and I am done holding my own reins.