Friday, April 23, 2010

Me and you, and the radishes

Some people tap out coherent, meaningful, witty blog posts in thirty minutes flat, but me? I ponder, handwrite, think, procrastinate, take pictures, write more, type, backspace, procrastinate, edit, write, twiddle my thumbs, edit, and post. And edit again.

Why do I do this? I ask myself this question frequently, but especially on days when writing feels like I’m scrip-scraping my nails down a blackboard. On those days I host mega-pity parties, complete with dunce caps and boo-horns. You’re wasting your time, I tell myself. No one cares. Your voice is just one among millions, cluttering up the airwaves. Just shut up and go thin the radishes. At least you can eat radishes.

Who is this blog for anyway? I write it, but you read it. The line between us can get pretty blurry sometimes. Who comes first? You or me? Me or you?

The answer is “me,” of course. (The answer is always “me.”) But I write for you, too.

However, I write for me first. I have to. I started this blog for me, and no matter how big (or not big) this blog gets, it’s still for me.


Sometimes I think I would like to be famous. I imagine crowds of people flocking to fawn over me, peppering me with questions, stroking my ego, telling me I’m Something Special. If that were the case, I imagine, my heart would continually beat out the I-just-got-a-compliment happy-rush pitter-patter and my cheeks would be forever rosy, the blush of the humble star.

My imagination embarrasses me sometimes.

The other week I listened to a music group get interviewed on NPR. The group had been singing together for many years and had only just recently made it to The Big Time. The interviewer asked them if they ever thought about what it would've been like if they had made it big back when they first started out. One guy said that, yes, he thinks about it, and he believes it would’ve changed their group considerably. We’ve had to work really hard, all the time, he said. Young singers who come out of the starting box and go straight to the top, they don’t fully appreciate all they have gained. We, on the other hand, savored every little success. Each one was a gift that made us so over-the-top happy. We wouldn’t have enjoyed them or even noticed them if we had been instant successes.

I’m fairly certain I’m never going to be famous. I don’t have the potential for it, nor do I think I actually want to be famous, all daydreaming to the contrary. But ever since I heard that interview I’ve been noticing how much I really do appreciate all the little happy moments (or sweet “successes”) that come to me through this blog (or in any part of my life, though this is my only consistent public presence, if you don’t count sitting on the front row of church every Sunday). This past week has been full of little hugs—sweet emails, phone calls, notes in the comments, and verbal recipe compliments. Each one makes my insides feel like champagne, bubbly and fizzy-sweet.

But good feelings only last for a few moments, maybe a day, tops. Then the euphoria wears off and I’m back to the grind, tap-tap-tapping, editing, thinking, and posting it all into the great void of nothingness. Most days there aren’t many (if any) comments, no I-love-your-food compliments, no emails, no phone calls. It’s just me doing my thing. Period.

And you know what? That’s okay! I realize my hand is forced in this matter (sour grapes, perhaps), but when it comes down to it, this strict regimen of fingertip tap-dance is something I enjoy. It’s my outlet, my discipline, my love. For all my griping and hair-pulling, I do enjoy the process, tedious though it may be.

I’m not sure what the point of sharing this is. I run the risk of sounding vain (I can be) and self-seeking (I am). I think what I’m trying to say is this: the internet is weird. It twists together the personal and public in some grotesque and awkward ways. The gift of instant feedback is also a curse. It turns writing, a thoughtful, ponderous process (for me), into a ping-pong game—I write, you talk; ping-pong, ping-ing, pong-ong. In many ways, this fast give-and-take trivializes the writing process. There’s too much, too fast, too often.

The challenge for me is to practice my art, yet keep my integrity; to write for myself, yet hold my audience in front of me; to say what I need to say, yet limit myself from writing too much. Because the internet is a void that could eat me alive.

I’m just keeping it honest, folks. That’s all. The internet whips my butt some days, and other days it puts me on cloud nine. It’s a struggle, keeping my feet on steady ground.

It’s a good thing there are some radishes out there in the garden that need to be thinned.

12 comments:

  1. For what it's worth, I think you have a tremendous writing talent and could be famous someday . . . if you wished to pursue same.

    Rich and famous? Would you like to be? Shy little ol' me would not like to be famous. But rich? I would handle that very well do good things. You can be famous, I'll be rich and share my riches with you.

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  2. That was so well said. This blog world is weird sometimes, huh? I know that I blog because I want to talk about what I'm doing...but I sure don't "talk" like you do! You have a real gift. My talking is in "bullet form", as I call it. That's kind of the way I think. Oh well. I always enjoy your writing and your recipes, so please keep it comin'.

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  3. I'm glad you addressed this! I think of these things too. I have rather strict guidelines for myself/my blog and so far, by sticking to them, I feel ok.
    But it's hard for me not to attach self-esteem to comments or lack thereof.

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  4. Ooooooo. I love this post- what you said and the way you said it. You hit many a nail on the head when it comes to this thing called blogging. I struggle with the "Who is this for?" question all the time. When I realize it really is for me, a way to get my thoughts organized, to record what I was thinking or doing on any given day, I find a quirky peace about it all.

    I do want to say this. I read EVERY SINGLE post of yours and you ARE Something Special. And I'm not just saying that. I really know you. And love you.

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  5. #1 I'm surprised with your choice of t-shirt. You don't seem the type to wear a gold studded sun t-shirt. Maybe I have you pegged all wrong... unless it was a gift from you know who (Dr. P) then of course that would explain everything :)

    #2 I don't think you'd want to be famous... unless you'd want your every move followed by the stalkerazzi... and plus... you'd have to come up with creative ways to keep them away from your windows... like nail strips or something.

    #3 Also, I bet if you were famous... they'd start to follow Mr. Handsome around too... waiting to see which part of his lunch he discarded only to dig it out of the trash and analyze it... then they would write horrible stories about how you're in fact a crappy cook and your rise to stardom was all built on a bunch of bad recipes with good photography.

    #4 See... you can't win...unless of course you were Meryl Steep...

    #5 I highly suggest you stay who you are... life is more interesting when we can be ourselves... and not what other people want us to be.

    #6 Are you sitting on the couch with the hole in the cushion? How did the hole become a hole? Don't answer that if you are keeping your secret recipes hidden in there along with your other valuables.

    #7 By the way... the tortillia's...FLIPPIN' AWESOME!

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  6. I adore your blog. I love your voice, the things you say. The recipes sound divine. I have far too many blogs on my reader, but if I see a post up from you, I go there immediately. I don't comment much - I'm not sure why. I think I'm a bit overwhelmed with the whole blogging thing, but I do appreciate your blog and am so glad that you are not going to stop blogging.

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  7. Ehhh....the best you can do is get out the thoughts bouncing around in your head and hope nobody has you committed. (Well....at least *I* do that....lol)
    'sides...you're *famous-ish* to me. I'd be awed if'n I met you. ;-)

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  8. No doubt you will be famous and handle it well, you write with integrity about minutia -- it really doesn't get much better than that!!! I read every blog - and always end up appreciating you and your life. Keep writing!!

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  9. You do have talent and I'm sure it could be put into a book and sell ~ thanks for writing for us...for you...it all works! :)

    Blessings,
    Camille

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  10. This is a wonderful post. So honest and so reflective of what every other blogger feels.

    Thanks for finding my blog also. I think we have much in common, and, though I struggle with just writing my own posts, let alone visiting lots of others, I will come back here again!

    My mother is an excellent cake baker, and I was reminded of her when I read about your delicious chocolate cake.

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  11. Don't ever want to be famous. Ever. Living in a rural village in Haiti as the rich blan was about as close as I ever want to get to what that must feel like. anonymity. I like it.

    YOU are an AMAZING writer - I stalk your blog. I tell other people they should be reading it, too. I've even posted an entry to my facebook and tell other people, "LOOK, you are MISSING OUT!!"...your blog is what i look forward to after working a long day just before bed time. LOVE IT!

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  12. Thanks, ya'll. You're so very sweet, pouring on the lovin' like that.

    Mavis, That is not the sofa with a hole in the cushion. THAT sofa is a Ralph Lauren, with real feathers poking out of its cushions. It has permanent marker on the back of it because we like to destroy ALL our furniture.

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