Right now I find myself in a position that I know many bloggers have found themselves in. As bloggers we talk about our thoughts, our feelings and our families. We share secrets and tips and photos, but just this morning I found myself well into a post about diversifying your income when I stopped myself. While financial matters may always be on our mind, this is not really what I am thinking about. What I am really thinking about, what’s weighing on my heart, is the loss and heartbreak being experienced by two of our dearest friends.
I know I am not the first writer to face this dilemma. Catherine Newman of Wondertime writes:
“Some of the most significant events in our lives are ones I haven’t been able to write about — friends who’ve been gravely ill, others who’ve divorced — and I always feel strange about that, waffling on about string cheese while my heart is breaking.”
Is writing about the less important things in our lives, to the exclusion of these much bigger events, a kind of hypocrisy? Or is it more the equivalent of being asked how you’re doing and answering simply and dishonestly, “Good, thank you. How are you”? The truth is just too messy and the explanation is just too complicated. Maybe that’s how it is with the writer who keeps posts to around 500 words and typically writes their stories in a single sitting. Maybe there’s just too much to put in there to be honest about our feelings.
There’s also the fear of using this blogging venue selfishly as a sort of self-help tool. I’ve talked before about how I use my blog to work through things and put them into perspective. Well, this isn’t a private diary and I’ve done a pretty terrible job of keeping it anonymous (Google my name and this blog is the second hit) so things that are written are read by my friends and family. If I need to work through something I should just do it in my private writings, right? Or I should just write my life into a novel, a la F. Scott Fitzgerald, where the only details altered are the names of the characters.
And therein lies the blog writer’s dilemma; how do we keep it real without exploiting the ones we love? How do we capture the essence of the events in our lives (both pivotal and trivial) while still respecting the privacy of the key players? I know I don’t have the answers and that’s why I find myself writing a series of questions instead of handing out advice. All I can hope is that the people I love see in my ‘offline’ personae that I’m there for them always, even while I’m writing about The Algorithm March.