This piece originally appeared in the online journal Lunch Ticket on August 8, 2014:
This one’s going to start out with some family folklore. Bear with me.
When I was a wee little one, so the story goes, I sat in my crib with a secret smile but nary a hint to my parents of a new talent I was budding. Once left alone, door shut, no adults around to observe, I worked on my latest and greatest feat (drum roll): standing.
(Impressive, I know.)
My folks in those days were young, first-time parents. Perhaps later, once my little brother came along, when schedules got tight with multiple jobs, my school, his teething, when the marriage began to fray in postpartum depression and thinner wallets, frozen winter pipes and, later, spring thaw ceiling leaks—perhaps then they were too busy for surreptitious observations.
But in that first year of new parenthood, my folks would put their fingers to their lips and tip-toe to the doorway of my room, sneaking peeks at baby-me through the cracked door. If I suspected an audience, I feigned interest in toys or toes. Once my observers disappeared, I’d pull on the crib rail, stretch my legs, and rise to stand. Parents back? Oopsie daisy, back on my bottom. I preferred to hone my talent in private.
I’ve mastered standing (you’ll be happy to know), but over the years, essentially not much changed. I close the door when I change my clothes; I do not sing in the shower unless the house is empty; I do not dare send out a piece of writing until it has been pressed through the ringer, the type is dried, the wrinkles ironed, the seams darned.
Enter the blogosphere.
Blogging is immediate, fast, furious. Unlike a laborious five-year tome, the quickness means our words can be pertinent to current trends without delay or restraint from publishing industry gatekeepers. A platform to stand on and a microphone to hold? Oh yes, for us writers, blogging is seductive.
But, I am sure you can relate: so many of us writers are introverts. Perhaps also a tad bit perfectionist. I am the twelve-month first-draft kinda gal. I weigh each phrase, shift punctuation, and hide my pages from anyone but my mentor. In the world of performance, I’m a fan of rehearsals. Improv? Not so much. The nature of blogging is in direct opposition to a ruminative nature.
And yet, I am here blogging, and perhaps you relate to this also: it’s the tension of the opposites. There’s the way we do things normally, and our desire to grow beyond those bounds. There’s something—isn’t there?—about stretching out of a comfort zone.
Despite myself, in the years since my first Blogger account, through Tumblr, WordPress,Weebly, andLunch Ticket, I’ve grown affectionate towards blogging. Thoughts quicken by the effort of it. In brainstorming topics, the creativity gears are oiled. Words come faster, and not just on the page. The mind sharpens.
Blogging is the opposite of perfecting a five-year novel in private. Blogging is typed and pushed live. Hello, world! There is no conservative safety here as with the single-reader letter, so blogging infuses the writer with deeper courage—perhaps the deepest courage there is, which is to speak up, speak out. If standing in a crib beyond the watchful eyes of others is the way I have always preferred to master my arts, blogging is the practice of forced growth, embracing imperfections, releasing control. Flaws and all.
Perhaps most powerful of all, though, blogging breaks the traditional one-way narrative barrier: readers also have a platform and a mic. Sometimes the comment threads are meager, but other times they light up with an electricity of their own. Such a lonely endeavor, writing. The courage and connectivity of blogging fortifies our literary community. Blogging opens the one-way street of writing to two-way traffic.
So: writers, readers, let’s connect. Do you have a blog? Share your link in a comment below.