A bit about blogging

This morning over my bowl of pumpkin crunch cereal, I finished Emily Gould's beautifully written piece about blogging and TMI.

She is certainly not the first writer to kiss-and-tell-and-tell-and-tell. Nor did she broach anything the garden-variety memoirist doesn't divulge or reframe between hard covers. I have certainly gobbled up juicy tracts by writers about their lives. Remember Joyce Maynard's book about her teenage affair with J.D. Salinger? Holy moley!

I have also done my fair share of blabbing. Years ago when I was about Gould's age, I had a weekly newspaper column, which was, effectively, a blog in print. I wrote about my incipient feminism, being single, stuff, I don't remember exactly. But I do remember the pressure to fill it, that it was a beast that needed to be fed. Coming up empty on deadline once, I wrote about a fight with my brother. I sent him the article, or my mother did. Needless to say, airing our dirty linen in public did nothing to assuage my brother's ire. He WAS pissed.

Virginia Woof said, "If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people." Her message to women writers was to write authentically, to ignore society's strictures around female self-expression and write from a place of personal truth. That family members or friends might get hurt in the process was only a subsidiary concern. Art. Writing. These were ideals, the capital-letter agendae.

In my case, my brother chapped my ass and I had a deadline to meet, so I spewed. Problem was, he didn't have his own column in which to spew back.

I can't imagine having 12 deadlines a day like Gould did for Gawker; a dozen instances when one has to be trenchant and funny and glib--or game over. For her, how could the personal not become professional? Where else would she get her material? But that she would then go and start another blog, one even more self-revelatory? That's a busman's holiday on a careening death coach with Sandra Bullock at the wheel.

Unlike my brother, one of Gould's subjects--an ex-boyfriend--did have a platform and he used it to lob a verbal volley back in her court, one she didn't have the heart to return. If you live by the poisoned pen, well, it can all get pretty messy, especially if you sleep with others who have poisoned pens.

Not being a "Millennial," I can't relate to the non-stop texting, cell phoning, Twittering that goes on, this need for constant contact. I've also never been particularly confessional as a writer; I'm too afraid to embarrass myself and those around me, placing me at odds with young people and Virginia Woolf. Putting it all out there can be a pathway to fame and fortune (Augusten Burroughs) or ignominy (Augsten Burroughs). Not everyone has the capacity to own one's truth as The Truth.

Emily Gould is an outstanding writer, and weirdly, continues to blog. I understand the need to stash one's thoughts in a public place; for me, journaling seemed so stupid and solopsistic, whereas blogging offers an audience, which changes the nature of what comes out. Instead of the crap I'd scribble in my journal, I write better-crafted, less naval-gazing crap here. I am aware while I'm writing that I might be read and choose my words with that in mind. And, like any writer, I crave readers, but don't have the stomach or inclination to lay my life bare.

For Ms. Gould, however, it seems the medium not only became the message, it's become the messenger.

Comments (3) -

May 29. 2008 09:58

Roxanne

Eeek. That's a scary thing. When I do reveal something via the blog, I try to do it with an essayist's mindset, not a diary or revengeful one.

A cautionary tale for sure.

Roxanne |

May 30. 2008 02:12

Wendy

Thanks for the link to Gould's article -- very interesting. While I do cringe when I find TMI on a blog, I'll admit to having been weirdly fascinated (but guiltily so) when I read Maynard's book.

Wendy |

May 31. 2008 05:03

mwknitter

I found the article interesting also (my SO saved it for me - I was on vacation - because he knows I read a lot of blogs).  In particular, I found it ironic that she wrote an article about revealing TMI while blogging - thus exposing herself further.  Fortunately, the only kind of writing I've done for pay was technical,legal  explanations of ALJ decisions - translated into layman's language.  I can sympathize with the pressure of having to come up with something witty & hip 12 times a day (even one time a day would be challenging.)  A more experienced individual would have considered that & probably had the good sense to decline the position - probably explains why all of the writers were in their early 20's.  

mwknitter |

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