Some days I sit here and I wonder who I’m writing for. I wonder if writing every day isn’t somehow diluting my words, my work. Initially I thought it might be beneficial, training myself like one of those hypothetical monkeys, hammering away at this modern day typewriter- eventually at some point the great work will come tumbling out, right?
I’m beginning to think that I was wrong. It’s become too scattered, too open to corruption. Like throwing dozens (hundreds, at this point) of darts at hundreds of different targets, hoping that at least one sticks. What am I trying to do? Am I trying to strike a chord? Convey meaning? Be funny?
It’s the feedback aspect that pollutes it I think. At what point do you see yourself turn away from writing for yourself and towards writing for others? I would argue that this sea-change occurs precisely at the point where you begin to feel an obligation to an audience, imagined or otherwise. The point where you desire the reaction of an audience more than you desire the release writing affords.
Keeping a journal, I never felt pressured to fill each page, to summarize each day and sign my name. It isn’t the same here, it can’t be.
The birth of these thoughts and my need to excise them can be traced back in a linear fashion to two things: Discovering, then reading, my little sister’s blog; and working my way through Sherry Turkle’s book “Alone Together”.
This is what I was thinking, sifting through my sisters wildly disjointed, chaotic and insightful words while simultaneously perusing the pages of a book about the perils of technology and our feedback culture: Hilary (the sister) wasn’t writing for anyone. I never knew she had this blog, not one entry had a comment and so I assume few others know of it either. She was writing for writing’s sake. Some posts are so obscure that I don’t even know what they describe, what they refer to. But they’re deeply engrossing nonetheless, they encapsulate her so perfectly.
As for Ms. Turkle, the fantastic researcher with a delightful last name, she has built a book explaining word by word what technology does to us while we think it’s working for us. The eternal feedback loop.
At the intersection of these two worlds, the words written by these two women, my mind started retracing its steps. Why did I start this blog?
I felt like there was a part of myself that was overflowing. In the first post I ever published here, I said:
I found I was getting twitchy, tetchy, without someplace to write. I need somewhere to hold the extra bits of me that won’t fit into snarky emails and hastily written texts…
By sitting down each morning and forcing myself to write – although forcing isn’t quite the right word- am I losing something? Does the quality get lost within the desire for quantity? Am I turning myself into a sort of 24 Hour Fox News channel where the pressure of writing something means that every day I churn out words words words that don’t in fact mean, anything?
How much can be said about a misunderstanding with an online retailer? How many times can I re-tread the worn trope of celebrity worship?
I know that in navigating this terrain, it’s important to remember that life doesn’t exist in a vacuum but it also can’t flourish in an environment so overstimulated, over-fertilized, over-harvested.
I’ll become barren, nutritionally void.
I don’t know what this means. Perhaps it means fewer words and more meaning behind them. Perhaps it means nothing. The truth is probably somewhere in between.