Monday, August 1, 2011

Why Blog?

*Seems like a good question to answer, especially after taking the whole month of July off.

Why blog?  I never thought I’d do it.  In fact, I’ve long thought it is the worst medium for me.  I want to write, to be a writer.  Who doesn’t these days?  However, I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and maybe a bit of a prig. 

Perfectionism: I write a little then revise a lot, then sit on the results for several months only to return to it and revise some more.  I’ve got 15 pages of a young adult novel that I still dream about working on.  Just dreaming right now, though.  In order to give it the attention I want to give it, really work it into something I’m proud of, I want to wait until both babies are in school.  I fear neglecting them if I commit to working on writing now.  Worse, I have greater fear of writing in fits and starts only to produce something mediocre.  Let me add that up for you: I fear writing badly more than I fear neglecting my children.  I’m a horrible human being.  If writing well is such a need for me that I would risk ignoring my children’s needs, writing in the offhand, frequent way of blogging is simply a bad fit.  Right?

Priggishness: I love great works of literature.  My best friends growing up were authors, and stories formed me as much as people of flesh and blood.  When I visited my brilliant and accomplished Cambridge doctoral candidate sister, I stood in the Trinity College library, before a Shakespeare First Folio, and teared up.  I was breathless; I actually lost my ability to breathe for a moment.  I aspire to write well, in the vein of the classics.  I don’t expect to achieve greatness, but I don’t want to let go of aspiring to it.  Blogging is relaxed--full of transmutation, contradiction, and mess.  As a reader, I like the informality of blogs.  However, as a writer, I am terrified of the inescapability of writing something I will regret making public.  Probably on a weekly basis.  Yikes.

So why blog?  Why now and why about my running?  Let me start with the “why now?” question.  Why not now?  My only reason to continue putting off making the ramblings public is fear, and I’m not comfortable with fear having too much room in my life.  So I’m embracing my skill at self-deprecation and self-revelation rather than hoarding it in yet another draft on my hard drive. 

Why the blogosphere?  I guess that’s obvious.  Who’s gonna publish me but me?  Besides, I like the democratization of readers choosing to follow or not without a dime of investment, marketing, or media blitz in the mix. 

And why running?  Why make this little hobby of mine the focus of my time and yours?  After all, I slog through miles ungracefully and slow.  No inspiring triumph at the end of this story; I won’t be working my way to a 30-pound weight loss and a Boston qualifying time.  But my running is my own, peppered always with moments of blissful self-forgetfulness or renewed self-empowerment. 

In writing about my running, I don’t risk those I love hating me for dragging them into my delusions of literary grandeur.  Myself as wife, mother, teacher, Christian...these identities are at my core.  However, they are not mine alone.  They are knit, warp and woof, into the stories of people more priceless and complex than my words can approach.  My  beloved babies, my heroic husband, my mom and dad, my sisters, my few friends who I hold as close to myself as family.  They are treasures that I will continue to lock in the box of my private life, safe and beautiful.  I read Thomas Wolfe’s You Can’t Go Home Again when I was too young to see past the terrible risk of sacrificing one’s personal world to the universal good of art, which teaches us to love and understand humanity better, but in the abstract.  I’d like to keep my loved ones as concrete as possible, and let them be whole--not cleaved into pieces I can squeeze into paragraphs.

But I’ll tell you all about my running.  It’s just me out there, and times and distances, and embarrassing accidents, and even more embarrassing choices.  When it comes to myself, really I have no shame.  It should make for interesting reading...harmless, interesting reading.

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