Over the last couple of days I have engaged in what I believe is my very first internet debate. While I am a long-time blog reader and participate in certain message boards, and I’m even learning a bit about twitter, I have always avoided participating in internet arguments, whether they are about attachment parenting or the Paleo diet or President Obama’s birthplace. I just don’t find them a valuable way to spend my time, generally.
But early yesterday one of the blogs I read, which I won’t link to here, seriously provoked me, so much so that I found myself commenting over and over again, arguing with people I’ve never before spoken to over the internet, and on a couple of occasions I was even told I *should* leave because I obviously didn’t understand the intention of the author’s space (to be fair, the author herself didn’t recommend this and instead said something like “these uncomfortable spaces are where we learn). On the one hand I found myself a bit baffled…I mean, asked to leave? Do these people not know me? I am funny and warm, and I ALWAYS know what fork to use at fancy dinners! On the other, as unproductive as the whole discussion might seem, it did get me thinking about my own blog, its original and current intent, and the state it is actually in.
One of the qualities that impresses me so much about the blog I was commenting on is the author’s utter fearlessness. She writes without worrying about offending people – she writes her own truth, and be damned those who are too sensitive or too uneducated to take it. I am not a fearless writer, at all, and it has limited my nonfiction and fiction writing as well as this blog.
I spent a lot of time thinking about this last night. One of the most well-received essays I ever wrote, about growing up the daughter of a Vietnam Vet, I ended up filing away in a box because I could not – would not – out my father in this way. A lot of the essays I wrote – the most powerful and well-written essays, anyway – I ended up putting away to revisit upon the death of my parents because I am both presumptuous enough to assume the possibility of their publication and cautious enough to have some extreme concern about the reaction of my family if they did get published. And this kind of cautiousness is one thing – it might not be a brave choice but it a choice I made that I am fully comfortable making. The problem is, this fearfulness has extended even to my novel writing and blog writing.
The novel I wrote, which I began while working in Michigan and completed after I moved to Pittsburgh, was admittedly quite autobiographical. I packed it away, along with a lot of my other writing, because I could recognize it for what it was – an awful first novel. Even as I did so, though, I also knew the issues I was trying to tackle – Vietnam, the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and the effects of the Gulf War, were in some ways too mighty for me. For some reason I often don’t feel like I deserve to write about these issues – as though they belong to people far more intellectually rigorous than I. I spend an enormous time doubting my ability to tackle complexity.
As crazy as this sounds, I think the internet debate highlighted a lot of this for me. When other posters accused me of not being “intellectual” enough to handle their conversation, instead of running away and never visiting the site again, I thought “screw you.” I talk about health care policy all day long. I create messages for vice presidents and leaders in my community, and internationally. I might not be a college professor, but not intellectual?
Anyway. My point is, some of this caution has spilled over in terms of my comfort level with blogging. For instance, I might want to address certain complexities in marriages but feel uncomfortable because a friend I know is experiencing a similar situation and she occasionally reads the blog, or I might want to jokingly post about all the vegetarians I seem to know now but I don’t want to offend anyone, and on and on. You see the problem, and this barely scratches the surface of my concerns in terms of blogging content.
Well, no more. I love writing and blogging – and I am inspired and encouraged by all the fearless authors out there, in print and online, sharing their stories. I am going to work, in all mediums, to become a little bit braver, and a little bit more honest. I hope over time to develop this blog into something that is updated almost daily but as I move toward that, I am first going to implement what I am calling Marriage Mondays. I’ve long wanted to start a blog tackling all the different issues the institution of marriage creates, from deeply personal issues to larger societal issues like same sex marriage. I imagine it a cross between my favorite parenting blog – askmoxie.org and the Happiness Project. I am not sure, however, whether I have the time or enough ideas to maintain such a blog so I am putting the idea in beta, here at everythinginbetween.
Here is how it’s going to work. Every Monday I will either post a question from a reader, a topic in the news, an excerpt from a book, etc. I’ll post my own thoughts on the subject and then encourage anyone who would like to engage in the comment section as well. I will still plan on posting other blog posts ( I hope to work up to some sort of “theme” for most days of the week) but baby steps, people. Baby steps. If you would like to submit a question/comment/topic for the first Marriage Monday, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! Other topics I hope to post about but have been avoiding include my continued efforts as weight loss (I always think nobody would want to read about that!), our current home renovations, parenting issues and workplace issues.
I don’t know why I let myself get so intimidated and cautious but I am trying to correct that now. Onward!