Friday, May 8, 2009

Here's one for Emily Dickinson

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

I promised myself if I ever started a blog, that this Emily Dickinson poem would be in one of my first posts. I think it's more than coincidence that "bog" sounds so much like "blog." So here goes my blog No. 2: ribbit! ribbit!

This poem resonates with me because I have always been part of the nobody group, since childhood, and to this day I am a strong advocate for nobodies everywhere.

Dickinson's disdainful reference is to an audience (bog), not a forum for reaching it (blog). She and other great writers weren't relying on an intended audience when they were generating their best material. So no one should have to write in public view to be a good writer -- an argument against blogging. Does the act of blogging, itself, even pervert the pure act of writing because it's immediately "published"? Much like sending an e-mail has a whole different feeling of immediacy and casualness compared to writing someone a letter? It's worth a ponder.

It seems everything has a faster pace online. It's harder to sit back and reflect. There's always a goal in mind, a place to be, on the computer. I am never just rambling or randomly exploring. A fast, hurried pace is not beneficial to the writing process.

No, wait, that pace describes my whole life. Even if I were journalling in a notebook, I would have many other obligations pressing on me. That's the pace of life for the vast majority of people in most developed countries. The only place where I picked up on a much different, slower vibe was in Hawaii. They even had brochures educating tourists about the slower pace of life there, because it's under attack by people like me. I've never been good at doing nothing, I mean meditating. Or smelling the roses. Or just being! Not doing. My friend Karen tells me, we are human beings, not human doings. Really?

Back to Emily for a moment. Mirriam-Webster says a "bog" is wet, spongy ground, rich with accumulated plant material. Really, I don't mind being in the middle of all that if it allows a little creativity to ooze out. I also sense a stillness and slowly fermenting growth in a bog. It's quiet, warm, wet, growing ... back in the womb! But a bog for all its stillness is not a safe place. Danger lurks; pain is close at hand. Like life. That danger forces us to change, maybe to grow.

So, I have some questions. Can I be a blogger if I hardly ever read other people's blogs? If I think there are too many blogs out there and "everybody thinks they are a writer these days, even if most people aren't"? My friend Carol, a fellow blogger with more experience than me, reminded me that I said I'd never be out there for just anybody to read. It's so voyeuristic and typical of the false feeling of intimacy that the Internet creates for some people.

Writers never needed blogs before! But blogs are here now, and they're not going away. Just don't take any of them at face value, especially the political ones. Since I hardly ever read them, I guess I'm on thin ice here ... but I've heard enough talking heads to know that you rarely can trust anyone who has a strong opinion about anything, to provide clean facts that haven't been tailored. So don't take my word for anything! Information has exploded, but balanced "facts" about anything are becoming rare jewels and harder to find amid all the piles of manure.

This blog, for me, takes the place of a handwritten journal or diary, which I kept for years starting at the age of 8 when my mom bought me a diary. I stopped the practice of handwritten journals in adulthood, and now my handwriting is difficult to read and produce. Handwriting is becoming a lost art in our society. I much prefer typing, but I acknowledge that something of the soul of writing is sacrificed when it's no longer penned by the writer. Think of the founding fathers and the beautifully handcrafted documents they created: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and more.

I could keep a Word document with all my ramblings, but I'm here instead ... hiding out a bit, hoping not too many people find me ... at least till I've had a while to sort out what I want to say. Now I rather admire people who have a strict format to their blogs, like local Tom Bonham who writes a religious column that I format for the Wilson County News. It makes it accessible to readers. It's just so easy to ramble on, and on ...

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