It’s July 23rd??

You know how the old saying goes… how can I miss you if you won’t go away?

I don’t know what has happened to my desire to blog.

Ok, not exactly true. I listened to Marketplace this evening while I was on my way to pick up my daughter.  It was an interview with Beau Willimon, the guy in charge of that show, House of Cards. The Netflix folks don’t share any stats with him and he likes it that way. Here’s why.

Those numbers can lead to either forced choices that have nothing to do with the creative process, or, conversely, coming from the creative side, a form of pandering. Because you become obsessed with those numbers and try to cater to them. So, I don’t have to deal with any of that… You can’t get addicted to heroin if it’s not available to you.

Most of my absence can be explained away by the common business of life, but since I discovered this interweb thing, I’ve been battling my own Demons of Pandering.

I’ve struggled throughout my life to figure out where I fit in, what my purpose is. When you feel a bit lost like I tend to feel, having followers and commenters and retweeters can seem like a dream come true. Finally — I HAVE ARRIVED.

A couple of problems with this. First of all, a gal like me can conflate this with real relationship. When she figures out that all these people (vast majority at least) are using her blog to build their own brand, she can get a little despondent and bitter.

That happened with Uneasy Pink, my old blog that examined issues surrounding the culture of breast culture. I thought my connections were friends and in one sense of the word they were, but not in the way I wanted. They wanted to link to their own blogs, promote their own stuff, and in one particularly embittering instance, promoted a blog they had just started under assumed names without letting me know they were behind it. Apparently I wanted BFFs, slumber party peeps.

There’s a language too, a system of communicating on the internet – clever (it’s full of awesome!) and snarky (most everything at jezebel) and confrontational (everywhere) – that has become formulaic and boring. To be to verbose or complicated is to be ignored, unless you’re David Simon, who can get away with writing these amazing blog novellas while remaining entirely engaged and one can only guess, genuine.

Further complicating the issue, there are site statistics. I can track the sort of post that garners the most attention. The types people love are the trainwreck posts, ones in which I provoked leaders of breast cancer not-for-profits into doing battle with me. People cheered my confrontational ways and I’m good at it, so when I needed a little boost, I’d go after the Feel Your Boobies people.  I’d check the site statistics and VOILA, I’m popular again.

Pandering.

Until eventually I realized how utterly drained I was. Resentful too, that I was being expected to be a circus monkey. Angry with myself for playing the role.

All it takes is one good divergence from the party line and the ensuing epic confrontation to remind me that the price you pay for pandering.  Along with the utter loss of integrity that comes with playing to your audience, you have to stay in line.  Or look out.

I know I’m being vague here, but I’m way too classy to go into detail.

It’s a love/hate thing. The basic human need to connect with others vs. abandoning who you are to get more readers. There are rules of engagement, both stylistic and substantive. And there are consequences, of course, for violating rules. As I told a friend just yesterday, it seems I’m just not cut out for sorority life.

So while I work out my existential angst, I’ll leave you with a quote from a great essay, Still Just Writing by Anne Tyler.

I have learned, bit by bit, to accept a school snow-closing as an unexpected holiday…When there’s a midweek visitation of uncles from Iran…I have decided that I might as well listen to what they have to say, and work on my novel tomorrow instead. I smile at the uncles out of a kind of clear, swept space inside me. What this takes, of course, is a sense of limitless time, but I’m getting that. My life is beginning to seem unusually long. And there’s a danger to it: I could wind up as passive as a piece of wood on a wave. But I try to walk a middle line.

I was standing in the schoolyard waiting for a child when another mother came up to me. “Have you found work yet?” she asked. “Or are you still just writing?

10 thoughts on “It’s July 23rd??”

  1. Hmmm…there is an enormous difference between a circus monkey and a friend who will go kick ass when you don’t have the exact words. The issue is, it seems you were writing for others, and not writing for you. We sit and imagine as we type, “What will so and so think when he reads this?” and therein we have lost our compass, our true center, our why we write. Of course, the two are inseparable, writers and audience…I find sometimes I blog to purge, and at times to change the world (or so I think.)

    Admittedly, you are an oh-so adorable circus monkey, kind of the grumpy cat of circus monkeys, but that has nothing to with why I love your writing or feel lucky for your friendship. You do you girl, and let them do them. And if them doing “them” is for secondary gain, well, yeah, shame on them…just keep doing you. Those two things ARE separable, and the space in between them guards the very pure and simply reason we write; to share. xolauren

  2. Katie, my dear, know just what you mean. Why I stepped right off Twitter. Why I’ve written exactly 2 posts this year. I’m busy. Living and shit. And writing Other Stuff That Has Nothing To Do With Cancer or Blogging or Blog Awards or Stats.

    But, hey, when you’re on, babe, you’re the total bomb. But if it don’t feel right, don’t do it. If it do, do. You’ll know when. And it’ll be worth the wait. xoxo, Kathi

  3. I can TOTALLY relate. Social networking has a way of getting you caught up in the hoopla, taunting you to be part of the madness or an outsider looking in. I’ll admit that after a few years of getting caught up with the rest of the cyber-world on Social Networking (I didn’t get a mySpace acct until my Fall 2008 semester which was around the same time I got a facebook acct and basically discovered this whole thing) that I can honestly say that I can sincerely do without it. Sure it’s a nice form of communique to speak with people from all over the world that you normally wouldn’t talk to or meet but for the most part it’s completely pointless and fake to me when it comes down to how it’s being presented. All this is about is people searching for acceptance from strangers instead of finding satisfaction within themselves. I can’t believe I got caught up in a few crappy sites a couple years ago that finally burned me out and made me bitterly bow out of it all, I didn’t find the excitement in it that I did 1nce before (that and Life kickin’ my ass, now I’m usually too busy to do things like read your blog or keep up with my hobbies like art and music). Lauren’s right–the min you stop doing what you love for yourself and for other people it loses its luster and appeal. A artist friend of mines gave me that advice years ago and I haven’t forgot it, the LAST thing I want to do is paint or draw or make mixtapes or music videos for others, only my satisfaction, and I don’t think that makes me selfish or self-centered, you know why?

    Satisfaction comes from those who pleases themselves.

    Don’t worry, we all need a break from our creativity to rejuvenate our imagination and energy and vitality. This is a step in the right direction for you.

  4. Different folks, different strokes. For me, blog is an electronic journal. Better than doing it as .doc as I can post/view from anywhere plus can easily insert links, images, etc. Helps clarify thoughts, identify weaknesses in reasoning, mark progress. Outsiders welcome but primary purpose is self-improvement, quest for truth.

  5. dear Katie,

    I am not a blogger so some of what you have written in this post is unfamiliar territory. all I know for sure is that you are a superb writer and I have learned from and enjoyed all the posts I have read. you are a gifted wordsmith. you have the ability to make people care and respond to your thoughts and observations. and don’t most truly writerly writers of blogs do it for themselves? that’s so valuable – it gives your readers great inspiration to sometimes re-wire thought processes and also know they are not alone. and it gets the heavy-hit emotions up front and center; we all need that – putting it out, and taking it in. keep writing, dear Katie, you are an honorable and able seeker of truth.

    much love,

    Karen

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