Keith Snyder
Door always open.

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Blog envy

By nature, I have two speeds: on and off. This applies to most of my life. I'm either burning through brain cells, writing fiction or composing music or editing video until three in the morning, day after charred blur of a day, or I'm compulsively checking email and arguing about stupid things in online forums, and repeatedly looking at--but not opening--the envelope my cell phone bill comes in.

This "on or off" bug (feature?) complicates blogging, because it applies to my sense of honesty, too. By nature, I can either be completely open and honest, or I can shut the tap off. Selective disclosure isn't comfortable; if I want to write well, I have to be honest with myself about myself--which means the "honesty" tap is open. Which means I'm happily prepared to disclose all kinds of things I'm not supposed to talk about.

Some are personal things that shouldn't be disclosed because someone would suffer. Sometimes I don't mind if that person suffers, but then I'd have to suffer for making them suffer, so forget that. Others are business things that I'm under strict orders not to disclose. This is annoying because once you manage to get to the point where you're not supposed to disclose things, there's actually something really cool to talk about. But you can't, because you said you wouldn't and it would mess up somebody's plans.

Then there's possibly the most frustrating kind of thing not to disclose if you're a writer, which is the thing that if you tell it, you've told it, so you've ruined it for further use. I envy bloggers who don't have fiction to worry about: they can channel everything--their weird dreams, embarrasing cares, outrageous hopes, odd thoughts; in short, every passing, immediate excitement--into their blogs without worrying. But fiction writing is about telling a story, and for me, it's about discovering the story as you tell it, and once you've told it, it's no fun to tell again. It's like when you come home bursting with something you're dying to tell your spouse, so you rush in, and without even taking off your backpack you launch into this exciting thing, and when you get to "Isn't that great!?" your spouse removes those damn earplugs you can never tell she's wearing and says, "Were you talking to me?"

Never mind. Forget it. You just don't want to repeat it, and even if you do, you're not as excited--the pressure has been relieved. You've told the story, so it's no longer bursting to get out of you. Cross that one out; you'll tell her the next one, whenever that happens.

The blogs I like to read are witty, informed, and well-constructed. It frustrates me that if mine were to follow suit, I'd be working against myself.

And then there's the problem from the reader's side. My wife was disappointed in Anne Lamott's last book because (she said) she'd already read most of it at Salon, when the same ideas and images appeared in the form of essays.

I have a limited brain; my store of ideas is small. I can do better for each than to give it a few paragraphs of ephemeral ASCII. So I'll wait. But I'm still envious of great bloggers. I want to be a great blogger too, always trenchant and sparkly, always getting linked by other trenchant, sparkly bloggers.

But it just wouldn't be a good idea.

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