Writing generally, and a blog particularly, has always been a source of a great deal of conflict for me. I go through this cycle of being super excited about it (usually when I start a new one) and then inevitably get overwhelmed with a combination of self-consciousness and ever-expanding focus.
I've been thinking about the self-consciousness element a lot lately. Isn't there some degree of egotism whenever we put out something for consumption by others? Aren't we on some level saying “this is better than other things you could be doing”? At the least, I worry that I'm vulnerable to that criticism. The result has been a tendency to only write when I have something that I think is “interesting” enough, but without a clear metric for what that actually means (leaving aside the question of whether that's a valid standard to begin with).
I was reading The A.V. Club yesterday, and came across a story about how the daughter of one of the people (Lori Loughlin) involved in the recent college admissions bribery thing got some kind of sponsorship from Amazon. It involves her showing off her doom room online or something, and kind of ties into the broader “social media influencer” phenomenon, which for better or worse I'm too old to really be into.
My initial reaction was that the whole thing seemed really egotistical and shallow. Then this started to seem like a counter-example to my earlier question. In trying to think about what distinguishes someone whose sole appeal is commercial versus someone who, say, writes a novel, it made me think that the distinction is aim rather than skill or something as nebulous as “artistic merit.”
Meanwhile, I've been re-reading Preacher, probably my favorite comic of all time. There's a brief bit where two of the characters are talking about Bill Hicks, and one of the characters says something about how he was just someone telling what he thought to be true.
I realized that this is part of why I feel compelled to write all the time. It's not necessarily that I think I know all the answers, but there's a difference between knowing I can be wrong (and doubtless am in some cases) and believing that I'm always wrong, or that I can never say anything of value. But beyond that, I do think there's something to be said for the idea of simply putting oneself out there and seeing what comes back. The universe is a funny place sometimes, and energy out often returns in strange ways. Granted I find it easier to have a starting point (ideally something someone else says that I can respond to), and admittedly I often feel more compelled to respond to something on someplace like reddit than I do writing on a blog, since the latter can feel so much like pissing in the wind.
So with that preamble, I'm going to try two things. One, not apologize for what I think quite so much, and as a corollary, be willing to say when I think something is wrong. Reasonableness and open-mindedness is one thing, but without any “closed”-ness, it's impossible to think (and, more importantly, stand for) much of anything. But I hope that I can actually take a lot of my alienation and frustration and channel it.
The second thing is not to worry quite so much about meeting some minimum profundity standard. I'm not sure I'm ever going to be able to judge that effectively, and I'm tired of this start-and-stop cycle that happens with every blog I've ever had. Instead, my approach is going to simply put something out there that is important to me, and see if maybe it doesn't resonate with someone else. It's better to admit the possibility than refuse to do anything out of some misguided humility.
So let's see where this goes.