The Mark Blog

Writing About Blogging About Writing...

I’m nervous. Not about my writing––the collection’s coming along. What I’m nervous about is this blog. But I'll get to that in a moment.

It’s true, writing a book is one of the scarier endeavors I’ve embarked upon, partially because of how damn long it takes. And by most accounts, it's almost a guarantee that I won't be rewarded financially, or even satisfied artistically. So why the hell do it?
 
Because I look forward to it. It’s what gets me up some days and keeps me up others. Hell, if it were a chore, I wouldn’t do it, but it’s really not about the final product. Writing is, like most things worth doing, about the process.
 
But this process isn’t exactly a summer picnic. Most writers have moments of extreme self-doubt. Mine struck hard last year, during my second writing residency in Europe (I know, sounds awful, right?). I had a great few months writing and traveling through Portugal and Spain, but when I sat down in a room, alone again, ready to write, I wondered why was I cooping myself up when this strange new continent was beckoning just outside my window. It didn’t help that I was in a coastal Mediterranean village, it was the height of summer, and the beach was a 20-minute walk away. I started questioning the value of my time and the kind of work I do. Why put in so much time wrestling with words and constructing little tales of urban promiscuity when the world, with all its peoples and pleasures, its beauty and bounty, is out there for the taking? Why not use this time to grow a garden, raise a family, live a natural life? Or be a nomadic adventurer, wandering from town to town and surviving off my cunning and charm? In short: living, instead of writing about it.
 
Reading some Mark blog posts by previous participants, it seems that doubt is a common feeling in this program. So far I’ve remained relatively fear-free, and have enjoyed every workshop and subsequent rewrite. But then… there’s this blog.
 
Blogging’s harder than I imagined. The pressure to come up with something is one thing, but to make sure it doesn’t suck is another. As a fiction writer, it’s taking me years to finish even a short-short story. They don’t just roll out perfect, polished, and brilliant, unfortunately. And neither do these blog entries. I’m not always one for memoir-ish self-reflection, maybe because I generally cover a lot of that ground with fiction. Fiction also allows me to embellish, combine things, and outright make things up without feeling like a liar. With this blog, I’m telling the so-called truth–– at least as best I can.
 
Blogging also risks overexposure, or at least, over-disclosure (see last week’s post), but is there such a thing anymore? In this uber-connected era, we’re blurring the line between private and public lives until they’re almost indistinguishable. Maybe this isn't such a bad thing. Maybe this phenomenon is, in fact, empowering individuals, even starting revolutions around the world (i.e. Arab Spring). Or perhaps it’s all an illusion, and the common man is still ultimately powerless against the conservative power structure that retains control when the dust settles (again, the Arab Spring, and perhaps even the aftermath of Obama's reelection).
 
While I’m pretty sure this blog won’t be spearheading any kind of revolution, I do hope it inspires, entertains, and provokes thought. Being forced to write about my writing process is also another way of figuring out just what the hell I’m doing, and why. And to do it in this public forum only means that I have to deepen my thought processes that much more, or risk embarrassing myself. After all, once it’s online, it’s here forever. The same is true of your comments, although those can be anonymous. So fire away!
 
P.S. After this, no more blog posts about blogging. I promise (he says, one hand behind his back).