Closing My Eyes as I Blog

A number of blogs that I read have been apologizing recently for not posting very often or very regularly. Most say they’ve just been too busy, but at least one blogger has blamed Facebook for “sucking” his blogging energy lately. That’s an interesting idea, and I look forward to scholarly discussions of the generic and performative distinctions among blogging, Facebook, and Twitter. I am also not an especially prolific blogger. I think I’m averaging something like 1.85 posts per month. And I am aware that I’ve slowed down recently. However, I’m not sure this is something that merits an apology.

You see, I blog for me, and not for you. I don’t mean to suggest I don’t care about you. I totally do. But I recently realized that I write blog posts only when something gets under my skin, and the only way to scratch that itch is to write about it (or post pictures about it). Usually I don’t know what I’m going to write until I get into it. Each blog post, for me, is exploratory, an attempt to figure out and refine what I think about something — an “essay” in the original sense. I am not all that interested in persuading readers of something (all three of you tend to hold similar opinions anyway). I think of this blog as more of a sandbox for personal meaning making.

All this puts me in mind of Peter Elbow’s article, “Closing My Eyes as I Speak,” in which Elbow argues that we do composition students a disservice when we insist that they focus their energy on “audience awareness,” instead of having them write for themselves. I’ve got all sorts of problems with this line of argument (as those of you who knew me in grad school know), so I find it somewhat fascinating that this is essentially where I’ve wound up with my blog. Unlike other kinds of (academic) writing I do, this blog is mostly just for me. Is it possible that, for all my commitment to socio-cultural theories of language and literacy, I’m a closet expressivist?

It’d be fun if that were true. But that leaves me with a question: Why not just keep a private journal? If all this is just for me, then why do it publicly on a blog? Well, that’s where things get complicated. In all honesty, I don’t think I’d do any of this writing if it weren’t public, if there weren’t at least the possibility (despite my laughably low blog stats) that somebody else was reading this. When my writing is completely private, as in a journal or in notetaking, I take lots and lots of shortcuts. I don’t feel compelled to spell out everything, because I figure “hey, I know what I mean” (even if I don’t). When I write blog posts, however, I feel compelled to take a stab at making myself understood. I have to connect the dots for you (hypothetical reader) in a way that I am simply too lazy to do with private writing. So while I said that I blog for me, you are nevertheless an integral part of the process. Knowing that you might be reading this forces me to write in a way I find personally rewarding, whether or not it actually connects with you as well.

So, I thank you, dear reader, either real or imaginary, for being there (or not).

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