Blogging is terrifying. It’s a form of instant publishing – and this is the lure: you never have to worry about having an audience. You are guaranteed feedback. Even when it’s infuriating, or furious, it’s there.
But the awareness of that constant critique can make you sabotage yourself: instead of writing what you want to write, you learn to predict the interest of your audience. You’re always a step ahead of yourself, and eventually the warp can become paralyzing. It did become paralyzing.
In a conversation on Feministe, I described it as like stripping in front of people who refuse to show their faces, but that’s not the whole problem. Your audience isn’t silent, isn’t impersonal: they’re vocal, ever-present. And it isn’t so much that they refuse to show you theirs – this is never entirely true, anyway, especially in the hothouse intimacy you create when you build your glass house – but that your own virtual body becomes a figment of their response.
One way to recenter yourself is through anger: when you’re pissed off, you have no problem speaking from your own heart. It was always easier for me to argue – and to stake out an intellectual position, and even to believe in what I was saying – when I was being annoyed. My writing improved, too – more lucid, more stylish, more agile. When you’re ranting, you’re never hung up on transitions.
Even my audience improved. I could say that they became more predictable, but I know they became more responsive – meatier. Sometimes I could get them mad, at or with me, and then we would goad each other into some fantastic material.
This sounds bad, doesn’t it? I didn’t think about this dynamic until I was well into it – and didn’t think deeply until long after that – but I did write for the pleasure of writing, and I did write outraged pieces because they were easier to write with relish. Write from the heart is a cliché, and this isn’t necessarily a cynical process, but it did put limits on my heart. I didn’t tend to write on anything less clarifying than anger.
And now I’m having trouble getting angry – and I’m suffering from writer’s block.