Monday, March 07, 2005

Some random thoughts on blogging

Although I took another sick day from work today (mainly because the combination of congestion, occasional out-of-breath coughing fits, and cold medicine left me dizzy enough that I was a bit afraid to drive), I'm feeling much better now. Thanks to all who have sent good wishes. This cold has kicked my butt more than said butt has been kicked in years.

Some random thoughts on blogs and blogging:

1. There are a heck of a lot of "serious" poets out there. This is not news to me, but reading a bunch of blogs drives the point home a bit. Sometimes this is a comforting thing, feeling like I'm part of a pretty big community. Sometimes, though, it makes me wonder why I bother -- what I have to add that's anywhere near unique. It's the same feeling I get sometimes when wandering through a bookstore: wow, look at all these amazing books -- why on earth do I want to add to this overpopulation? Isn't it amazing how many different ways one can find to try to sabotage oneself? In the end, I think, time spent reading/blogging at least helps keep poetry forefront in my mind, which is probably a good thing.

2. On a related note, I've decided that the temptation to spend time reading blogs rather than reading poems, or (now here's a novel concept) actually writing, is very much like what happens in a writing group when you catch yourselves spending more time socializing than working. The problem arises only because so many writers are just darned interesting people to hang out with, whether virtually or in person, so it's kind of a lovely problem to have -- but I need to regain some discipline and get more "real work" done, even if it does mean tearing myself away from this and other online communities a bit.

3. I'm pitifully un-well-read. It amazes me how many people can practically quote entire poems by a wide range of poets, as well as speaking intelligently and in-depth about them; sometimes I feel like even when I've read a book and paid attention to it, it just doesn't stick in my brain somehow. I think writing about what you read helps, as does discussing what you read with others who've also just read the same work, and this is one reason I'm attracted to MFA programs. When I think about doing an MFA, it's probably only half about the writing -- I also love the thought of being dragged into reading stuff I might never have approached otherwise, and having the opportunity to write about/discuss what I read. I know, I could write mini-reviews of books I've read here on this blog, but it's not the same. I loved the reading I did in Cathy Bowman's class a couple of years ago -- including work that would have completely scared me off had I tried it on my own, like Stephanie Strickland's, which I ended up enjoying a great deal. (What does this have to do with blogging? Oh, not much, I guess, except that every now and then I read someone's blog and they mention a poet or a poem and I find myself envying how they're able to talk about that.)

4. I love reading about others' reactions to rejections and acceptances. In my little local poetry community, most of my writer friends don't put much effort into sending stuff out and trying to get published. I'm not sure why it's so much more important to me than it is to them, and I'm not sure it's entirely healthy for it to be so important to me, but there you have it. Anyway, I enjoy hearing from those who are also in the business of getting their work "out there" and this is a community I've found only online.

5. That said, in many ways I think Livejournal is better for community building. I like how it handles comments -- if you choose to have comments emailed to you, you are also notified when someone responds to a comment you've posted on someone else's journal, which is nice; I also like how it threads comments. And there are several communities within LJ that I enjoy. "Communities" are like group blogs; you can join (sometimes you have to be approved to join, and sometimes you just sign up) and then post to that community/blog. One of the LJ communities I like is "greatpoets," which is solely for the posting of poems selected by community members (not their own work). Sometimes the poems chosen reflect the demographics of LJ (a lot of people in their late teens/early twenties), but I've run across a lot of really cool poems there. Another fairly new one is "submit2005," in which people post about their experiences with sending out their writing -- acceptances, rejections, frustrations, questions. I know the popular stereotype of Livejournal is that it's all teenage angst and drama, but I have a number of talented, interesting writers (and other people) on my friends list.

That's enough random thoughts for one evening. Now it's time to put my money where my mouth is (or where my typing is, I guess) and settle in to do some reading. After I finish my chicken soup, that is.


Suzanne said...

I met with my writing group on Sunday night and we spent two hours catching up with each other and about 15 minutes on the poems people brought. *lol* I've learned to look at it as practice socializing because this writing business is so much about solitude that my social skillz get a little er, rusty. :-)

I'm with you on the blogs being a huge distraction--so many blogs are entertaining in one way or another that you can spend hours clicking through each one and not writing a damn thing.

Hope you're better soon!

jenni said...

Anne, so glad you are feeling better!

I'm joining a writer's group in my very small town. i've never been in one before, so i'll have to see how it goes.

I hear ya on the vastness of books. Sometimes when i'm in a bookstore i feel overwhelmed by the amount of books. At Chapel Hill Library (and at IU--6th floor of the library, i think? 9th floor?) --that is MINDBLOWING. You see so many first books and writers you've never heard of, it's an uncomfortable anonymity. But you know, every perspective on life is a little different, unique. there are many faces of truth and you bring into the world your unique experience. If you think about it, all poems really can really be narrowed down to a few themes. originality is a myth, as far as suject matter goes. it's the way you appraoch it--with your unique vision.

anyways, yes, i get distracted by all the blogs too. i limit myself to a few hours a day online, otherwise i could spend a whole day just reading about people's lives (and i have before) but sometimes it inspires me to write too.


Anne said...

Suzanne, I like the idea of a writing group as "socializing practice"! We can get mired in our solitude, can't we? I know it happens to me a lot, especially since I live alone.

Jenni, I'll be curious to hear how it goes with joining the writers' group!

I have lots of thoughts about groups & my experiences with them -- hmm, blogging fodder perhaps....

Ivy said...

Hi Anne,

Those are great inks. Thanks for sharing. Any source for motivation is good.