Monday, December 10, 2007

Only connect

Now, that I've gotten over myself and started telling people that I have a blog, I have started wondering, why do I have a blog? It's not like I'm unique...every other townhouse on my street probably houses a nerdy person like me, typing away in the wee hours of the morning about their favorite meal or their favorite movie star or what someone said to them at the mall that day. The more people that have blogs the more grain-of-sand-ish your blog feels and it's easy to trick yourself into thinking that you are writing in a void, that your writing might as well be corked up in a bottle and tossed out to sea. The Internet can feel like this vast ocean--your thoughts and words exist somewhere out there, but they are so tiny and there is so much ocean that they can easily be swallowed up. But, somehow, miraculously, they aren't being swallowed up. People I have never met are reading about what goes on in my tiny little life. Maybe you are one of those people? If you are, then I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am honored and amazed and humbled that you would read this.

I just read this article about bloggers in Japan and how different they are from bloggers in America. For starters there are many more bloggers in Japan and they write much more often. Their blogs are the opposite of the American style of ranting and pontificating in the hopes of landing a book deal. "Bloggers here shy away from politics and barbed language," the article says, "They rarely trumpet their expertise. While Americans blog to stand out, the Japanese do it to fit in, blogging about small stuff: cats and flowers, bicycles and breakfast, gadgets and TV stars."

The article goes on to describe one Japanese blog that is called "I Had My Lunch." The writer of "I Had My Lunch" writes daily about, well, her lunch. She is careful never to criticize the food or the service at the restaurant where she eats. She always finds something positive to say because she would not want to cause the restaurant to receive any negative attention. I wish I could understand Japanese because I would love to read about her lunch every day. Granted, I am a little bit weird, but for some reason even the most mundane details about a stranger's life are intriguing and reassuring to me. According to the article, Japanese people have all the latest technology and can (and do) blog while walking down the street. I think that is fascinating. All these anonymous people brushing past one another on a street or sitting next to each other on a train, not saying a word to each other because they are busy communicating anonymously with an imagined audience. (She said, communicating anonymously with her imagined audience).

So, why do I blog then? Whether I like it or not, I have always been a writer. My brain is happiest when I am using it to put words together on a page (or a screen). I am not good at talking. I dread talking on the phone because my words come out all wrong. I find myself saying things like, "I don't know what I'm trying to say" or "I know I'm not saying this very well, but..." a lot on the phone. My brain shuts down when my thoughts have to be filtered through my mouth. Give me a keyboard and I can suddenly say exactly what I mean to say. The thoughts come out and show themselves to me as though someone else came up with them.

So, why not just keep a journal then? I don't know. The truth is, I have tried to keep a journal and I have never been very good at it. I don't like the feeling of writing for my eyes only. My writing changes when I know I'm the only one who is going to read it. I get whiny, I complain a lot. I become a very glass-is-half-empty sort of person. Blogging is like praying in that you polish up your thoughts in order to send them on a journey. It's a conversation--mostly a one-way conversation, but there is the presumption that someone is there on the receiving end.

At the end of the Japanese blogging article the reporter talks to a man who blogs anonymously about his five-year-old son. He was flabbergasted when a reporter called him for an interview after seeing his blog. "I hadn't told anyone else that I blog," the father said. I can totally relate to this. As soon as you hit "publish post" and send your little thoughts out to sea, you never expect that someone else will find them. It's much easier to believe they will drift out there forever in their little bottle. I am trying to write with the faith that my words will wash ashore and someone will open them, and for just a brief moment there will be a an imaginary line connecting me to that person. I think that's why I blog.


Anonymous said...

Whatever your reason for blogging, keep it up! I love finding your corked-up bottle of words on my little beach. In fact, I walk down to the shore almost every day in hopes that you have tossed some more writing into the ocean!


Anonymous said...

Keep up the blogging. I always enjoy what you have to say and often laugh out loud while reading your blog. I'm a mother of two kids so I especially like your family stories since I can often relate to them.

Anonymous said...

You have the unique burden of being honest. You have to go ahead and say the things that most of us don't want to admit or face. It is so refreshing and cathartic to read your work. You have to blog so that we can know that the things we think and feel are shared by others and know that we have community. We need you to give voice to our struggles as you do so well.

Love you,

Anonymous said...

Your bottle is washing to Dallas, TX, where I click on MommyTown each day in hopes that your creative juices have been flowing. As a working-outside-the-home mother of a 3 yo and 11 month old, I love your stories and appreciate the diversion.
I am still laughing about your wanting your toy collection to be a small liberal arts school - brillant!

Elizabeth said...

Thank you for all the nice comments, everyone! They have made my whole week!