Blogging must be an art similar to sculpting, portraiture, and playwriting because I stink at the first two, and I have no desire to pursue either. I feel the same about blogging. It does not come naturally; it proceeds in fits and starts, and I’m never sure what the point of it is.
Blogging is a slog.
Is blogging similar to keeping a diary or journaling? I never did either of those things, not on a regular basis; neither interested me. I did try a few diary entries when I was a pre-teen. That experiment lasted a few days. I tried keeping a journal once or twice, but making entries was something that just kept slipping my mind.
Why am I so resistant to the form – diary, journal, blog? A diary and a journal both seem to me private dialogues; ones you have only with yourself. You share what passes for your deepest thoughts and feelings and out of that comes purpose, resolution, or resolve. My first objection – the effort seems self-indulgent and solipsistic. My second objection - I can never decide whether I am writing for me, or for an audience, and, if I am writing for an audience, then it seems to me I’m not being authentic or true – I’m performing, putting on a show, trying to please someone else.
Blogging seems to call for introspection and self-analysis, but what I write seems self-absorbed rather than analytical, and it resembles introspection less than it does tedious naval-gazing. And when I begin a blog post I know that I’ll be publishing my broodings online for the world to see. If I begin writing the blog post knowing that others will read and critique what I publish, am I performing? Am I editing my thoughts and myself to be more palatable, more pleasing, and more marketable?
I’ve concluded a few things:
The content may not be all that I could hope for, but the workout was beneficial.
Well, December 2015 was a bit of a bust.
In November 2015 (my last blog posting), I was all hot to trot and crowing about how I was going to use the last month of the year to achieve good and great things.
And what did I accomplish?
In terms of submitting works for consideration, not a thing. I got overwhelmed and discouraged, and I did not send out any plays. Then I spent most of December beating myself up over that. Such a good use of time.
What did I get done? In terms of writing, a fair bit.
First, I finished another short story. A story I had been working on for a few months. A story that I believe is written pretty well. That felt good.
Second, I shared three short stories with two friends, both of whom have written or do write, and both of whom I respect. My friends read the stories and gave me feedback that I read and evaluated. Their feedback led me to make a few edits and revisions which I think will make the three stories stronger.
What I found interesting about their assessments is how personal they were. Personal to the individual who read the story and provided the critique, I mean. Everyone brings his or her own baggage to the piece. My two friends are from different generations and different sexual orientations. Each of them saw things in the stories that the other did not. Each of them had emotional reactions peculiar to their own lives and experiences. After reading a specific passage, one said “X,” while the other said “Y.” One remarked that a particular line was true and funny, while the other suggested the line could be cut. I think this is the general rule with criticism – opinions are often all over the board and rarely in agreement.
But, in at least two cases, my two friends were in agreement. Each of them stated that he did not understand what I was saying and that the point I was making was not clear. So I re-read those passages, which made me question the clarity of my writing, and that led me to rethink, revise, and rewrite.
What’s my point here? In December 2015, I finished one new story and I got helpful critical comment on three others. This is no small thing. I need to keep telling myself that. I also need to stop my internal reprimanding – “you said you were going to send plays out and what did you do instead?” Because I kept at it, I kept going, and I did do something.
Here I am in January 2016. I have revised my three stories. I have two other stories ready for critiquing. I have the books and lists and spreadsheets I need to start reviewing and culling the submission possibilities. And I have two plays being produced here in Columbus in June. Those are good things. Those are encouraging things.
Discouraging as December was, I’m not giving up. It’s January. Time to get back to work.