Saturday, August 22, 2009

autobiographers (and bloggers) lead perilous lives

I am disappointed in myself for not booking into many events at the Melbourne Writers Festival. Yet I fear at the moment I am suffering from stimulus overload. Too much information.
In recent months I find I have become something of a blogaholic. This bothers me. It’s all too easy. Some chance remark on someone’s blog, some brief reference to someone’s thoughts on some other blogger’s ideas, leads me to click the mouse and enter a new blog, one I never knew existed and then depending on the nature of that blog I find I am keen to include said blog onto my ‘follow’ list.
I now have seventeen people whose blogs I follow. I understand I am not alone in this. But at the rate I am going, with an increase of two new blogs every week or so for the last month I will soon be like the old woman in the shoe - she had so many children she knew not what to do. Not that bloggers are children, but I find myself busily identifying with so many of them if I can.
For me it is a brave new world.
I am wary of the ease with which words online can be seen to be far more hostile (or sometimes loving) than they would sound were they spoken. I also resist those (to me) awful conventions, which I see my daughters using regularly on face book, the lol, the hahahah, the letters that signify sounds that presumably are intended to soften the blow of any comments made on line.

My husband, the lawyer, tells me often enough that it is important to be wary of what I write in official capacities, for instance in the notes I might make about my work with others. It’s better he tells me to write less than more. The more you write the more likely it is to be misconstrued, or distorted by those who wish to put a different spin on it than you had intended.
We live in litigious times.
All of this gives me cause to sigh, a tremor of paranoia, but I persevere regardless, because I love to write.
I try to write as honestly as I can and if it gets me into trouble (as it certainly has done recently) then so be it. As the wonderful literary critic, Paul John Eakin writes
‘Autobiographers lead perilous lives.’


Jim Murdoch said...

It is a strange place, the blogosphere, and, like you, one I am not altogether comfortable with. I spend time in it to promote my own writing. This is the way of things nowadays - you need to push yourself forward That doesn't mean I don't enjoy many of my connections but it's easy to make more of them than one should. I resist using the word 'friend' because it's a word that has become devalued as so many words have nowadays. I've seen the word 'e-friend' kicking around but I'm wary of using it because it makes me seem petty, underlining that these people are not worthy of being true friends. One can be friendly – I'm being friendly now – without committing to friendship.

I too also resist smileys and abbreviations. This has led to some of my tongue-in-cheek remarks being misinterpreted and so I'm not sure that my adherence to old-fashioned values is to my benefit but I doggedly dig my heels in anyway.

I follow a lot more than seventeen blogs, probably closer to a hundred, but I weed them constantly. You have to. I've also learned to scan. I read only a fraction of the blogs I follow but I scan every post until I decide its author is taking more out of me that I'm getting out of him or her. It's a dog eat dog world I'm afraid.

I also favour honesty but I keep, as many do, much of my personal life tucked away. I've cultivated an online persona that revolves around me-the-writer. Those who read my blog regularly will know there's a me-the-husband and a me-the-dad and even a me-the-not-very-well-person but that's not why I'm online. I treat it like a business and comments are water cooler moments when the odd bit of my private life peeks through. Other than that it's a business, one that doesn't pay very well, but a business nevertheless.

Oh, and you're one of the blogs I follow. I have no idea why. You obviously said something that piqued my interest and haven't done anything yet to lose it.

Elisabeth said...

I'm flattered, Jim, though not sure that within the blogosphere people allow themselves to be flattered, honoured or whatever when they discover they have someone following.
And what of the opposite?
I tried to follow someone else's blog a while back, another blog I came across through someone else's blog which I was also following.
I woke one day to find a little notice attached to this first blog in my line of blogs, insructing me to stop following.
It was an awful sensation for about five minutes. A feeling that I had been caught out as a stalker or some such terrible person.
Hence my wariness.
Like you, I am reasonably cautious about aspects of my personal life, but equally I refuse to travel in complete anonymity. To me there's something crass about that.
I do like to know that there's flesh and blood behind the words I read.