Who’s this blog for, anyway?
During a party Saturday night, while I drank sangrias on the rooftop of an Arlington high-rise, I discussed with Shiftless Badger the delicious irony that the realization of an increasing blog readership has actually made me feel LESS desirous to write. As much fun as doing the blog has been, we agreed, sometimes there are things that we just can’t express. There are SOMETHINGS that we would rather our parents, friends, lovers, and even strangers, NOT read or know.
Each of us has private thoughts, ranging from the banal to depraved, that we’d like to convey. Some of us use our words; others, perhaps painting or music. In any case, for most of us, that desire to free ourselves of our internal burdens needs to get out. For me, I started this blog as a way to keep an online journal of my life and share photos, personal stories, and embarrassing moments with a minimal amount of self-censorship. I open myself up to both readers I know well AND to random strangers in the great big ether that is this Interweb.
Is it healthy? I think so.
Sure, sometimes, and I hate to admit this, I’ve been brainstorming blog ideas or writing them up and the thought of what my “audience” would prefer to read has played a much larger role in shaping these posts.
This desire to please readers started with friends innocently telling me what subjects they’d like to read about. It continued with me reading what other bloggers were writing about and getting prominently featured in other publications. It followed with Sitemeter tracking, anonymous (often spiteful and unpublished) comments, and teasing from good friends about my choices for blog posts (seriously, what was wrong with having a baby photo contest?).
I am positive that the many bloggers who are not furtively guarding their identity have a private journal or, at least, a secret blog whose URL they have not distributed to friends and family. I am equally positive that the public bloggers who have no problem sharing, or at least cluing readers into, their identity wish they did.
The desire to write unencumbered by outside influence is universal. I’ve started and discontinued dozens of journals because I found myself veering from my intention for privacy and started imagining that someday, someone would discover them, read them, and I’ll be damned if they’re not written well!
Of course, with a blog, a writer can’t exist in a vacuum. There is always an audience, readers who you may not know but will devour your words. This creates a sometimes uneasy writer/reader relationship that can’t help but have a cause and effect on one’s words.
Still, there aren’t always great things about which to write. I did a lot this weekend, but does any ONE thing merit a write-up? Maybe I could have written about my experience at the Redskins game Sunday and the Clinton Portis-like Mohawk I sported (sorry, the photos haven’t been uploaded yet). Maybe I could have written about fasting for Yom Kippur, or how the Dodgers clinched a playoff spot, or about the new neighborhood The Princess and I discovered Friday night with friends. But some things, I think, are better left undocumented ‑ and merely remembered.
We can’t always be witty/funny/entertaining and those who are that way are most likely insane. We shouldn’t always pine for an Express mention or a random compliment. Sometimes, all we really need is to enjoy writing for its own sake.