The Courage to Write

So I've been reading a bit more about what it means to have a weblog, and it seems it's nearly as perilous a venture as trying to publish a book. Okay, so I knew that keeping a weblog meant being public, but then that's what writers want, right? To have readers. Plus, having an audience helps one think more clearly, which is one thing that makes having a weblog better (I already realize) than keeping a diary. Both may in fact have an audience of no more than one, but nevertheless the prospect of a larger readership for the web version of such meditations makes the writing both more exciting and helpful, or so I find, at least. The thing that I always disliked about diaries was how easy it was to descend into self-recriminations for something gone wrong. It really didn't seem healthy writing all that much solely to oneself. Now, however, I learn that there is a whole blogging community out there (some of you may be bloggers yourselves) who expect blogs to do certain things and not others--and I'm right back where I was with academic writing. On the one hand, the whole point is to have a particular point of view; but on the other, blogs are still constrained by the expectation of what bloggers have done before. For example, be pithy--and short.

Now, I'm relatively sure that this is not the lesson that the author of the handbook meant me to take away from her book, but I'm finding that if I don't register my discomfort, I may not write in this context again. Which would be too bad, because I was enjoying it up to now. What shall I do? It's the very thing that has always made academic writing so stressful for me (likewise, many of my students): the sense that there are others not simply reading one's work, but judging it and finding it wanting because it does not fit with what they have read before. Oh, how powerful the Superego is! And yet, it was my desire for correctness that drew me to the book in the first place, so that I might understand the etiquette and referencing style for the web.[1] I do not want to belabor this anxiety I am feeling because I appreciate that the best antidote for it is simply to write. But as I am writing here as much for those of my students who may come across this site as for the general population on the web, I wanted a record of this moment: yes, even when one has been writing for years; yes, even when one is a published and peer-reviewed author; yes, even when it is in the wholly personal context of a blog musing on what it means to learn, "Radio Fuck-you" can hit. End of rant. Normal service will resume soon.

[1] Including when and how to credit links. For Christian Goth, I am grateful to Rebecca's Pocket.


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