Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Blogging: An Act of Vanity and Humility

It takes a certain degree of gumption to write a blog. My "web log" began when I made an assignment to a group of college freshman to dip into web-based media: either write a blog or build a website. Because I had already built a website, I decided to experience blogging so I could relate.

I anguished over the topic of this blog. At the time, I was about a year into writing fiction and nearing the end of my first manuscript, which I was trying not to think of as a mid-life crisis. (Loss of sanity. Check. No foreseeable income for months of work. Check. Funny looks from family, including dog. Check.)

But I plunged in. I decided to write about my journey to finish my book and get it published. Oh, such a creative topic, as I later read in the online advice about writers and blogging.

"Don't write about writing," warned scores of authors, advice gurus and social media marketers. "It's soooo unoriginal."

True, in some respects. Who cares about my word count, whether I finished a draft, discovered a really cool word in my numerous dictionaries or persevered while beating back small children. But I didn't and haven't given in to the negativity. And I'm glad I didn't. I'm still here, more than a year later (and you are, too) because I've learned a good deal while blogging, I've learned about the writing process and about commitment. It takes effort to come back here, suck up the doubts, and post each week.

I'm not too concerned about the outcome or gravity or opinions of my blog because essentially it represents my unfiltered thoughts. Hence, its name, Thoughts from jennysound, Notes on a Writing Life. Thoughts and notes are not WIPs (works in progress) or ARCs (advanced readers copy).

Okay, where is this headed? Here's the rub: writing anything is an act of vanity and humility. Blogs are the epitome of vanity writing. I write under the assumption that, yes, my thoughts are worth something (free, but worth a look-see). It is only an investment of time to write a post and time for you to read it. Aren't we important? Excuse me while I buff my nails.

But writing requires mounds of humility. I'm putting myself and my work (possibly of questionable quality) on display for review. You could slam it, spam it, essentially ruin my life with snark. Should I continue? What's really the point? (BTW, you are absolved from slamming, spamming and snarking. Just step away from the comment button.)

Let me take a quick detour of neurosis: I don't think some creative people experience the humility factor, and if they do, they don't let it show. Frank Lloyd Wright was once on the witness stand and identified himself as the world's greatest architect. Ever. He said he couldn't lie under oath.Whether or not that's true, it makes for a good example. I'm pretty sure there are writers (Hemmingway, Roth) who track pretty close to that level of ego about their work.

My justification for writing this blog is that I love words and love putting them together. I didn't always think this. I'm older now, and I like that I've admitted this to myself. I also believe in gifts of divinity and/or genes, and the ability to write is my gift. Writing makes me happy and contemplative. If I can impart either happiness or contemplation in anyone else because of my writing, all the better.

So, here I write. For a while. For myself. And, perhaps, for you.

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