I went back to thinking about identity today, via thoughts on audiences, what they are and what they do to your work. I was following up on a post on BoingBoing that I had seen a day or so ago: “A blog written by a stripper who is also a fine writer“. Of course being BoingBoinged, the blog was hammered. The blogger seems to have freaked somewhat:
Who are all of you people? What are you doing here? Why are you yelling at me? Last thing I knew I was in here in the dark talking to Tara and Diopter and maybe Sixty, if he’s still around, and now all you guys are here and you’re scaring me.
Now, one would imagine that the thought of suddenly garnering yourself thousands of readers, when you thought you were talking to a few friends, would be enough to get any blogger going. This blogger seemed so put off by it, at first, that she deleted archives. And she admits she is a little crippled by all the attention:
So, this is what I was about to publish when all the crazy people from the Internet showed up and I got paralyzed by self-consciousness. Oh, well. Here goes nothing.
I found it refreshing. I don’t know if it’s genuine and I don’t really care. A lot of bloggers are link whores. Or soon become so when they get a taste of the lovely sweet rush of a link. Attention! Someone can see me! Someone is reading me! I want more! ‘Grace’ will no doubt get there but for the time being, it’s enjoyable to see someone who is writing. She’s going to have a lot to say, and very knowledgeably no doubt, about how a blog’s audience affects your writing. I dunno if she’ll go there so I’ll just imagine it.
Anyway, after looking at this blog and thinking about this I got to thinking about Lynn Freed and her book about writing and her discussion on family and how difficult it can be to write the way you want to write, about what you want to write, when you have family, real or imagined, reading over your shoulder.
How do we allow this ‘audience’ to inhibit us or our writing? Obviously if you’re not published, you don’t blog and no one is reading your stuff you don’t have an audience as such but there is stil an audience somewhere that is affecting the way you write, or don’t, as the case may be.
As Freed points out, the fact that you have a family that you sense may not like what you have written, or you want to write about them, forces you to create a censorious audience for yourself. You are aware of Gertrude Stein’s ‘little dog’ and you write as that person, that the dog knows, that identity. Most people seem to blog in this identity, and for good reason. They get hammered when they don’t. (Anonymity and the immediacy of the internet put family grievances in the shade when it comes to the fallout caused by your writing. Of course, internet snark doesn’t mean nearly as much personally as family snark but the savagery is enough to stop you working). Grace seems to have been writing in what Stein conceived of as the other identity, the one that doesn’t require the little dog to acknowledge to come into being and was thus not limited by expectations or projected expectations.
Although her audience has expanded greatly I do hope she can keep writing while ignoring the little dog (as much as I love them).
So, lots of questions and no real answers. I’m just thinking. And watching the footy.
I knew I was taking a chance when I moved out of the city. I have been and no doubt will continue to be, in love with the city. The idea of the city offers me infinite potential. It’s almost impossible to go anywhere and not be aware of humans and their detrius. Not even in places like the Harbour in Sydney and its beaches. When I lived in Coogee I used to float in the water and look back at the buildings. The juxtaposition seemed to give me hours of endless wonder. I was outside looking in, if only for a moment.
But like a lot of things in life, there comes a time when you have to move on, for the sake of your own sanity. When I think of the city now I think of suffocation. I think of dirt. I think of stress, nerves and worry. I think of cramped spaces and people bumping up against each other while pretending the other doesn’t exist.
Walking home after dropping my son at the school bus stop this morning I looked up at the sky and listened to the quiet and realised I have made one of the best decisions in my life. I haven’t given in, I haven’t wimped out, I haven’t run away. I am starting to believe what others have told me, I have made a brave decision that, for once in my life, has paid off.