Friday, January 10, 2014
Instead Of A Proper Post
I want to write piffle, trifle, fluff. That means All About Echidne And Her Puny Problems.
I have three erudite posts (one may be stillborn) in the oven (NOT piffle, trifle or fluff). They clog up the works by demanding too much work, too much checking, too much the kind of stuff which you don't have to worry about when writing piffle, trifle or fluff. Some types of posts are so much easier to write than other types of posts (use yourself as the data!). What's fun is that those are also the popular posts to read. So why would anyone want to do the more work-demanding long epistles in the first place?
What has brought all this on? I think it's a tweet I saw last week: Blogs Are Dead. Dead as a doornail. Stinking dead. Dead as in no longer read by anybody whomsoever. And long-form writing is also terminally ill.
If blogs are dead, how come do I still write one?
Because I'm always too far behind (or too far ahead of?) the trends. Because I really don't care about branding, don't care about the kinds of marketing things I should care about, don't use this site to convert the whole world to the One True Belief (though that would be good). Also because I'm stick-in-the-mud boring (never in the avant garde).
So what is the piffle, trifle and fluff (all those f's!) I want to write about?
1. Perhaps the oddest compliment I received recently, at the dentist's office: That I have unusually beautiful and healthy gums. It made me think of ways I could show those gums more easily, so as to gather more compliments on their beauty (use toothpicks to pin my lips back? make very wide grins?). But only dental people would find them beautiful. Sigh.
2. Then there's my book project. It's going well, if each rejection I get means that I'm one step closer to finding a publisher for it. That's the proper analysis, by the way.
3. How to treat feelings in political debate and writing.
This isn't an easy question, not one I could answer while also chewing gum. It's a giant hornet's nest question, and how you view it depends very much on whether you are inside the nest, outside it, a hornet or not. But a small sliver of that question is really what I have pondered over (while tearing off my hair and kicking the poor garage door), and that is the question of the proper role of emotions in my own writing.
I'm a fierce goddess. Given that, it's my duty to rope in my emotions, to swallow my anger, to wall away my grief, to moderate my joy, to invite fewer people to my pity parties. In short, I try not to let my emotions dance over the words I write, because the posts shouldn't be about me and because not all my emotions are relevant.
I also believe that distancing those emotions helps the conversations, that it's better to stand on some firm floor of evidence and facts (or at least fact-seeming objects), before we join in the polka of anger or joy.
But am I going too far in the other direction? Do I fail to show compassion, empathy, righteous anger? Those are, after all, the fuel which drives much of my writing (that sick sense of humor drives the rest).
As an example, I'm thinking of the Chris Christie debacle and all the different emotions it seems to have elicited among those who follow it, from the glee caused by a good political scandal (only missing sex to be perfect) through schadenfreude from Christie's political opponents of various types to the anger and outrage people feel if it indeed is true that the traffic jams were created by someone in Christie's office explicitly to punish his political opponents while utterly ignoring the actual duties and responsibilities of that office.
Not all those emotions are equally important. That Christie has been accused of being a bully matters less to me than the possibility that he or someone in his office might use political power for private revenge. That political power ultimately belongs to all the voters in New Jersey. It's not intended as a private bonanza that can be used in any way Christie's office desires.
It is that possible breach of trust which matters most to me.
These musings are even more difficult when I write about women's issues, because there I am surrounded by hornets' nests on all sides and even inside me. When we feel threatened, we react, when someone pulls the scab off our wounds we hurt, and whatever the actual occasion for this, however justified or unjustified the accusations or counter-accusations, the emotions that are elicited are extremely painful. How to deal with them in writing? I don't have any good answers.
OK. That wasn't piffle, trifle or fluff. I have trouble sticking to the topic I assigned myself, even when it's me.