Today, my blog will be about my experience of writing this blog. Not just about the writing of it but about my relationship with it–how I got obsessed with it, how I kept checking it, how a yellow little notification button bringing likes and comments made my heart skip a beat every time, how I began to see the world through a list of little flags with numbers against them showing readers near and far. It will be about love, about envy, about obsession and finally, about my attempt to get a hold over it.
It will be about the experience of creating something and setting it out into the world and seeing it grow, about the process of democratic writing, about seeing how good writing exposed to the world can rise through unknown readers and how bad writing is punished by a dead spread on a static page with no movement in something as cold and tangible as site graphs and statistics.
It’s also about growth, about compromise, about settling for what the world wants you to be, about taming yourself, about paring your rough edges, sometimes painfully, to become part of a larger community.
In short, the experience of blogging as a microcosm of social life.
I’ve never felt this way about other kinds of publishing. In those, often considered the highbrow modes, long documents go into a black hole of the system, for several months, sometimes years, and then, by some mysterious process of black magic, an email or a note arrives, with the final verdict.
By the time you’re reading it, you may be someone else–another person, in a different phase of life. It either matters too much or doesn’t matter at all, an impersonal note from an unknown hand. You either make a note of it on a chart under the rejected list or you just put it in the trash with the rotting chicken bones and the discarded grocery bags that will always live on in some landfill or other, choking the weeds to death.
Blogging starts at first as a young man’s creative process, a young woman’s project at what exactly she wants to be, of making his way in the world as he sees himself to be, to push through the world like a lightning star without changing herself, without caring what others think.
Then, with the love comes the seduction, the rewards of being what one has to be to be liked. For the loneliness of the static page is too much, it takes a strong heart to survive in the abandoned wilderness of the bloggers’ wasteland amongst the ruins of abandoned edifices started with hope and love. And then one stands back and thinks.
The pain and the seduction and the phantasmagoric wasteland, inevitable in the distance, makes the blogger move around topics, break deep thoughts into small nuggets of paragraphs, wrench continuous ideas into neat little bullets, put in unnecessary decorations from Zemanta and go for easy, unequivocal conclusions. This is just the start of the process even without any consideration of search engine optimization.
If you create a living thing, you don’t want to see it mummified within a few weeks of its life, or create several clones of it, like the multi-headed hydra of the creative process, all to be put in glass cages at the museum inside your head.
Your personal expense of spirit in a waste of shame as blogger hubris in action.
What started as the lightning star then is tamed into the household light bulb. The inevitable fossilization of genre, of youth growing to old age, afraid of flickering, of not being steady and durable, of not providing enough light.
The freedom becomes chaos, the endless possibilities of the blog necessitates magic fingers that lift you and yours out of the chaos of the blogosphere through SEO suggestions that houses you in the choking, if comfortable cage. The space is painted, the limits set, the thoughts packaged, the product branded and ready to go. The parrot learns to talk.
But isn’t that what writing and growing old is all about? There is no self before perception, writing without audience, pain and pleasure without sense perception. You cannot make chairs if no one’s there to sit on, and you cannot serve a curry at a burger joint. If you’re really someone who matters, you might just be able to combine curry and burger and rename the new concoction after yourself and hold on to that brand until a bigger guy flexes his muscles and takes it from you and markets it globally under his golden arches. You forget about the nuances of fifty different curries you’ve known, nuances that your grandmother put her soul into in front of a coal fire every day of her life. That’s genre, that’s maturity, that’s socialization.
So now I’ll separate my little creation from me, no longer worry about every little step it takes as it grows almost two months old, as it talks to people on its own, learns to adapt to the world, develops its own anxieties and tastes its own rewards. I’ll still worry about overdressing it as I send it out to your party, and I’ll still probably keep checking those orange buttons like the novice that I am, for I find your silence killing.
I cannot be funny all the time though. Or useful.
For no reason at all, I got to reading Robert Browning’s Rabbi Ben Ezra, quite out of context but mostly because it’s sad and it’s hopeful, in a sad way.
That’s been blogging for me.
Here are the lines:
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”