Thursday, December 31, 2009

What We Blog About When We Blog About Blogging

The small things, not the things that really matter.

I can't blog much about the main event around the table this Christmas for example, or its emotional aftermath. What can I say? It was fun at first, then suddenly it flipped to desperately sad and unfortunate, and very important for the family dynamic. It was almost fictional in its drama, but I can say nothing or I risk alienating my family entirely. How? By "blogalising" it I will inevitably distort the facts to suit my truth and that will be "how it was" for all my readers, while each of the family's truths won't get a look in. Even these bland comments will cause ripples of consequence. BTW, it's the same most Christmases. There are always a million things that could be told, but can't.

So instead, like a dirty old man, I notice a pretty girl's cleavage and that's what I blog about. WTF?


This from my friend Smoot, a Singaporean lawyer -

You know what the problem with a blog is?

It starts off as a place you can write stuff in, stuff that you can't write down in a diary because someone could find it. Then after a while, it becomes a place that transcends my normal everyday life, where I can talk about stuff that perhaps doesn't really matter but it matters to me in a relatively insignificant way, but important enough that I want to write about it. It's also a place to vent about the small stuff, if I need to vent.

But I can't talk about the big stuff. The stuff that keeps me awake at night. Because that's conduct unbecoming of a solicitor. Because I am bound by rules of confidentiality and propriety.

So I talk about what matters to me, a little. What bothers me, a little. Stuff that bothers me a lot is what I know to keep to myself. Even when I think so much about it that I can't sleep properly for weeks, and sometimes, oftentimes, it bleeds into my dreams and I wake up utterly exhausted, and put on my game face for another day.

Perhaps this time next year I will be far more settled in my mind, or maybe I would have lived with my fears long enough to have learned to ignore them.


And Facebook is even more superficial. Twitter, let's not even talk about it!


The title of this post comes from the Raymond Carver book of short stories, not from Murakami's manual of how to go jogging. I use it because not only because it is one of those iconic book titles that resonate and find application in a thousand variations, but also because my pool-side reading this holiday includes Beginners, the controversial drafts of many of Carver's stories before his editor Gordon Lish carved (sorry) into them, creating that spare, compelling, "left unsaid" style we all associate with Carver...

How interesting and appropriate.

I wonder what his blog would have been like? Full of small things, with the big things left unsaid like his short stories? But still he (or Lish) might manage to leave the truths of life hanging with an aura of awe all around, like a stepping into a cathedral and looking up close at the pews and the stained-glass windows, the paintings of the station of the cross, of the saints and the statues, but with each of his footsteps echoing in the enormity of it all, maybe...



Lost in Melbourne said...

I used to post under an anonymous name so that I could feel comfortable expressing my real thoughts on the topic.

Now I do restrain myself because of the nature of the world where people in my career path might seek out something to corner me with, discredit me for not being PC, or potentially lose or not even be offered a job for what I said. I can understand your family reasoning as well.

Enjoy the break in Bali by the water (hopefully also spending a lot of time in it). I hope that 2010 sees momentum build in your improving physical state and a great year ahead. Hopefully part of my great year ahead sees me join you in Singapore for a few shared great times and memories to recall or even tales to twist into the pages of literature.

Happy New Year

Istvanski said...

You could encourage the rest of your family to start blogs so that they can present their side of the story regarding the seasons frolics.
And don't forget to link to them...

Have a great new year.

expat@large said...

Scott: the blog originated in a Christmas email! But yeah, thinking of doing an anonymous one as well...

Istvan: I doubt my 85 year old mum wants the hassle of learning to use a computer. My sister is already a regular commenter here though. I keep telling her to vent on her own space, but she declines. My son is too busy, even for Facebook or calling his dad once in a while (strains of Cats in Cradle???). My cousins would faint.

savannah said...

even though i'm an only child and now an orphan, i still can't write about the things that happen because of his family xoxoxoxo

expat@large said...

Wow it's not even midnight and I'm crashing.... HNY everybloody.

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