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Sunday, December 25, 2011

oh the times, they are a changin'

Just a quick note to thank anyone who still visits here on occasion:

I'm humbled that there are people in my life who not only read my writing but actively appreciate it and encourage me to continue. I've been lucky to receive so much great feedback over the many years I've been online. Somebody has always been reading and caring enough to respond, and that's inspiring.

Yet as has often been the case, I've decided to move on from this specific venue. I didn't write here very regularly, but I was proud of the work that was put up here, and I think it reflects a certain time in my intellectual development rather well. Just like the last several blogs I've left behind, I feel that I just outgrew the style, format, and voice used. Some people have had consistent blogs for several bajillion years (see dooce for example) and they've managed to stick with it and let the audience grow with them. I admire that, but so far haven't mastered it.

I've had an online presence since I was elementary school age, starting with a website for kids in the reeeeally early days of the internet when my dad started an ISP. I've had more sites/blogs/social media accounts than I can even remember. It's been fun, and I know a LOT about the web and the sociocultural space it occupies (and has occupied) that I'm sure will be interesting and valuable at some point in my life and career. Still, there's a strange space the web creates that intersects the public and the private, and where I want to draw the line between the two in my own life keeps changing as I mature.

Any poet or memoirist will tell you that it's horribly difficult to keep people from feeling that they know you when you write in a style that is emotionally immediate, "confessional," or, as Sharon Olds once said, "apparently personal." Furthermore, it's ethically dodgy to draw the boundaries between what you can share about the people and events that populate your life that is true to your experience while not exploiting those same people or being emotionally exhibitionistic. I am sure I have done this myself, and on the flip-side, I have been hurt before by what someone has written about me in a public, online space. This is part of being a writer, and it's not something I am afraid of particularly. I've gotten over these particular instances and I know I'll be taken to task again, because that's what happens if you're willing to have an opinion. (And it's obvious that I have several million of those). I just want to have a more considered strategy about how I plan to manage these delicate matters as I draw closer and closer to my hope of being published and moving forward as a scholar. At the risk of sounding silly or self-important, I need a PR strategy!

So that's that. I want to write under my full name in a venue that I can expect to be entirely public, and until I can figure out how I want to approach that, I plan to take a little break. I want to make a career of writing in one capacity or another, and it's important to me that what you can find online is parallel to the quality of what I produce in an academic sphere. While I expect I will always have a style and voice that retains an intimate, personal quality, there's a choice to be made about what that means from a content perspective. I'm asking myself: who do I want to write for, and what do I want to say?

Thanks for indulging my characteristically over-serious musings on the topic of what it means to write in public, if you've read this far. I hope to talk to you all again in a new format in 2012.

-ML