Saturday, May 02, 2015

if a blog falls in a forest

For the first installment in my Ask Me a Question/Give Me aPrompt series, loyal reader #7, Fresca, asks:

Why do you continue to blog in this era of FB, tweets, etc.? (I used to blog a lot, mostly went away for a couple years, came back and am interested in who else has stayed/come back/started blogging. It feels so...old fashioned!)

Like somebody famous said (Joan Didion? Or maybe she was the one who said “Take Fountain”), I write to figure out what I think. When AK and I fight, it’s not unusual for me to send her a text or email later in the day to sort out my thoughts. I’m sure she loves it.

As a writer of mostly fiction (at least until my memoir-in-progress cropped up), the blog is a nice place to sort through my thoughts on such nonfiction miscellany as Depressing Things In The News, My Various Neuroses, God, Books and Really Bad Reality TV. Not necessarily in that order. Probably in the opposite of that order.

Remind me to tell you about Marriage Bootcamp: Bridezillas, and how I'm ashamed to admit I saw a bit of myself in crybaby Kirsten, who was always taking a stand about her own alleged niceness.
I started this blog in 2005 (!) partly to do things that Twitter and Facebook now do—share goofy videos and promote cultural stuff I like. So you won’t see me promoting readings I’m excited about or posting that video where the guys in bellbottoms reunite with the lion they raised. These days, I appreciate that blogs can do what social media can’t, which is act as a venue for long-form text. You could argue quite convincingly that long-form text is on its way out, but for me it’s the only way to share certain things.

Recently I read an article defending (rightly, I believe) a writer whom people had criticized for Tweeting about her slow death from cancer. The article pointed out that despite its reputation for being curated and “not real,” social media is super-extra-real in the way it compresses all the extreme and mundane parts of our lives into one screen. In any given feed today, you might see Baltimore, Nepal, someone’s illness, someone’s baby, someone’s lunch. The internet reminds us that they all exist in the same world, however cacophonous and unsettling the juxtaposition might be. The world itself is cacophonous ad unsettling.

I agree that if you want to Tweet about dying of cancer, you can and should. It’s a brave and needed act. But if you want to provide context and thoughtfulness, as certain topics demand (for me), long-form still wins. Therefore when it came to my own (non-terminal…knock on wood) cancer diagnosis, I never announced it on Facebook. I also didn’t announce the recent birth of mykid on Facebook. I blogged about it and linked. Whether they’re categorically sucky or miraculous, big life events usually deliver a truckload of emotion, and I want to capture it all.

I am a fan of the cute-stuff-on-the-butt trend in children's fashion.
I think most writers—maybe even the experimental ones, in their own way—strive for honesty, and I like to think that my blog provides a bit of that. Facebook can be such a Museum of Look at My Own Awesomeness. Of course a blog is a curated experience too, but at least it doesn’t reduce life to Yay! and Boo! quite so severely. Here on Bread and Bread, I can tell you that I took an amazing trip to New Zealand, but that it was punctuated by adoption-related anxiety and angst. Or I can tell you that I saw [insert name of pretentious artist retrospective here], but I didn’t really enjoy it because I crammed in too many other things that day. Or maybe I was diagnosed with cancer but am feeling a lot of love and hope sprinkled in with my despair. Long-form makes those things just a little bit more transparent.

Have I succeeded in making my long-winded navel-gazing sound like a noble and political act? Then my work here is done.

Other questions/topics/creative writing prompts to keep me writing this month? Leave ‘em in the comments.


Kat said...

Love the name of the prompt-giver! So that's my prompt for you: FRESCA !

Fresca said...

hey, I like that prompt^. :)

And I loved reading about why you blog, Cheryl, and have just blogged a (partial) response to my question too. Thanks!

Cheryl said...

Thank you, Kat! "Fresca" is my next prompt.