Been meaning to muse on this Elgin Street Irregulars post for a while now.
I quote liberally, and hope the Coyote doesn't mind:
...many, if not all, [journals and diaries] seem to be written in a spirit of self-exploration. Stated bluntly, diarists flow most when issues abrade 'em, and ebb again when things smooth out. Human nature. The sincerer sort of diaries and journals are attempts to work out that most vexing of problems -- "What the f*** makes me tick? How do I fit into all of this?!".I've kept a journal off and on since I was about 15. It's been obsessive at times. My entries during library school were pages and pages of 10 point type. I have a mouldering suitcase full of notebooks that I'm too embarrassed to open.
All along, even though I was careful to hide the notebooks and .doc files, I was always writing for an audience. When becoming a Famous Writer seemed reasonable as a career goal, it was for my biographers. Then it was for my future self. Every once in a while, I'd go back over the past year or so (any further back is just too too embarrassing) and see what I'd been thinking and doing. Occasionally, this prevented me from repeating patterns. Leastaways, it sometimes let me know I was doing that again.
Part of me always wanted to have the journals found: the part that felt like maybe some of my best, most truthful writing got done when no one was watching. The excessive part of me that desperately wants to flay herself open and have strangers reverently pick her bones.
You'd think I'd have fallen on this blogging business like a fly on shit.
Blogging was, however, something I came to gradually. I heard rumours about this new-fangled trend a few years ago and was immediately dismissive. Exhibitionists, I thought; self-serving, I thought; a goddamn tentacle of 15-minute celebrity culture, I thought. Who fucking cares, I thought.
And then I happened upon Jennifer's blog. And got hooked. I loved the small stories about her neighbourhood, her friends. Since we live in the same 'hood and know lots of the same people, it was kinda like getting to see my life from someone else's eyes. But she's also a great writer with a keen eye for a good narrative, even if it's only a couple paragraphs long.
It made me realize that blogs could be art.
So I started, just to see where it would go. Unsurprisingly, it went pretty personal. In almost all my writing, I seem to gravitate to subjects that expose me, sometimes quite painfully. But therapeutically. I justify this to myself by believing that we need to hear each others' stories. We need to know that other people experience what we experience. I am not a beautiful and unique snowflake.
In the past few months, I've seen two of my favourite blogs close up shop: Not Well Planned, Matildazine. 5th Muse, the Elgin Street Irregulars' initial raison d'etre, has shut down as well. Jennifer and Musie cite happiness, or at least contentment, as the main reason.
Do I keep writing because I'm not happy? I have a pretty sweet life. A great apartment, the best friends ever, a lovely beau, a good job, a nice cat. But I'm still vexed at a more fundamental level. I still don't quite understand how I fit into all of this. I'm still fascinated by my own life, by trying to figure out what the key moments were and how they set me down here in Ottawa, mostly happy. It's likely a fascination that makes me a self-serving narcissistic tentacle of the celebrity machine.
But hopefully a sincere one.