Friday, January 07, 2011

The Public Private, The Private Public

Both facebook and the blog give me pause. They presume an importance to my daily whims and fancies that I don't actually have. I would be less than truthful if I didn't suggest that in growing up and reading the diaries of writers, I did not wish to make a certain colloquial art in my writings of the quotidian. I felt that way too about the epistolary form, the gracious hand-written letter that took pains to consider the reader instead of only the wishes for the writer to be heard and noticed. I admire great storytellers and those who can remember and deliver-well a joke. I lack some of these skills, but I aspire, on the writing front, anyway, to keep a kind of writer's diary here. The benefits are many: I can craft things well-enough for a more polished first draft if there is the hidden excitement that anyone at all might drop in for a read. I can make connections that are not strong enough to be an academic paper or even a solid essay but that, in fun, allow me to dip into music, random poems, quotes from movies and daily, tiny events. If something is to ignite from laying all these things down in proximity, it will ignite here and I can scoop it up into a word file and keep working. I can ventillate the smokey, musty, stale rooms of my psyche. I can overlap six issues into a post, and rant to my heart's content. I can wash it all down with a shot of likewise poetry. I can not verbalize every thing that frustrates me, but can instead do what I do to make sense of my world: word it out, here, and mostly alone.

In that mostly lies a world of troubles. The composite is a funny thing. You can write about one event, another person, a mixture of observations and then just a bunch of your own storytelling thrown in to keep things, well, somewhat anonymous. But there's that qualifying again. It is hard to keep a shared intimate space wholly private. The very sharing that makes me feel just enough accountability for an audience, and the fact that after graduate school, finding friends and readers has been tough, married now too with the much prayed-for and finally-found wonderful partner, all leads to a lack of writing community and community in general. At my loneliest points, dear blog, just to call out to an epistolic "you" made me feel less isolated. Certainly hitting "publish this post" brought a world of typographical error and inelegant prose into light in a way that the private recesses of my handwritten writings or my good-intentioned psyche never could.

I have major goals to get this work of mine completed, get it into the light and like most writers, I am my own worst enemy in that regard. So there is this space and from time to time, I try to fill it. And this space, as I mentioned is mostly private. But recently, upon being treated pretty shabbily by someone who has been a great deal of effort and someone who no matter how much I poured into the advice-giving and attempt to comfort, found himself always back to the same behavior and when told frankly, what I (or other alienated friends and family) thought, grew angry and lashed out at them. It is an alcoholism of the heart and it was exhausting. Years of self-analysis made me question not his behavior but my own. During that same period, the holidays occured as did a frustrating few days inside them. I decided to write about a live event and deal with the anger and sense of deep ingratitude of the now estranged friend and his addictions. I wrote in a very veiled way about it and left genders ambiguous. Someone read it and of course, was not happy. It mattered not that the character was not the character I intended, but that the frustration and some of the similar issues were at the heart of things. The year was ending and I wanted as I want now, to focus on positive things and to do the work that makes me feel good about myself. The amount of time and drama unfolding began to make me question why I do any of these things if they are to come under the wrong scrutiny and when they do, to be demanded of me more time and energy explaining. But under all that was the sneaky sense that I had been passive-aggressive and that due to a number of factors, I could not say openly and directly what I needed to say. So after the blog post, I wrote to the party in question and told him all I had to say about the way his patterns (two and a half years of patterns and two before I even knew him) were exhausting, that he wasn't living honestly and I was tired of trying to address it all. The friendship is no more and I am not at all sorry for that. Then a week or so later, I received the second call-out and in that letter I was not asked what I meant or to whom I was referring, or if I wasn't working on both the novel and essays that I work on here. I was accused outright. I pulled the blog into an invitation-only place. M (the partner) wondered at this and asked why I would do that. I said I wanted to be able to use it without self-consciousness and that I felt now, that I could not. I went to bed certain I had done the right thing. But as I lay there and thought of M's discussion with me about post-it notes and the permanent temporary and the way that all kinds of things were rattling around inside me and begging to be written and how I love how when April rolls around all of the poets with blogs who had linked to me and many of whom I only know through the blog would find me MIA, I felt bad. Because I like that other writers link to my blog and that when I post someone's poem, a google search may send that someone my way and that that might make a writer feel not so invisible on a day when that reminder is needed. I like that a couple of students, some old friends, and a few mystery folk wander in every so often and occasionally make a comment that something I wrote resonated with them and that for a moment, I feel completely connected, concatenated really, like those dolls that stretch out in a ribbon of forms and what connects them hand to hand is paper, that desparate necessary friend and foe of any writer.

So in the interest of all of that, I am resposting this. I hope that whatever I write is read in the spirit of understanding that, cliche as it is, "I write to find out what I'm thinking." It's the only way I know, the only way I care to.

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