Stream of Consciousness Blogging: Can I Do It?
By heartseverywhere on January 27, 2011
I’m not one of those bloggers that publishes stream of consciousness writing. You know what I mean … more like journal writing or ranting. Not much for sentence structure or even direction. Just trying to type fast enough to keep up with the words my brain is spitting out.
In theory, it could go something like this:
I woke up this morning and my eyelids were heavier than normal. My lower back ached as I stretched my arms out, draped my robe on my shoulders and began the day. The feeding, carrying, driving, cleaning, loving day that melts into all the other days.
As I walked to the garage in the morning to get my Zipcar, it feels like a chore to say good morning to the man who brings the car. I smile, he says, “Hola. ¿Cómo estás?” I say, “Bien,” which means the same thing in French and in Spanish – but when I say it, I mean it in French, because as I’ve told him for the last year, I don’t speak Spanish. I speak French and Russian – but no Spanish. He persists each morning.
After I drop of my son at school, I drive back to Wall Street in traffic and think. At one point I thought I could use some iPod app to transcribe words – doctor style. But it didn’t work. For a writer, brain-to-computer (or brain-to-paper) is different than brain-to-voice. It just is. When I tried to dictate what I wanted to write it sounded ridiculous. My brain thinks in writing rather than speaking. With writing you can take things back and make them sound better. With speaking, I end up saying it as fast as I think it – but then I often regret it.
But on this one ride home, in the dreadful sleeting weather, stuck in bumper-to-bumper on the West Side Highway, I started longing for this American idea of “Me Time.” Some of my girlfriends would strongly suggest I needed this “Me Time.” It was hard to find this mysterious Me Time. I wanted my Me Time to write – not for massages. It felt too selfish. Luxurious time devoted just for Me?
But then I realized that it’s all Me Time. It’s up to me to see the Me in every moment. As I feed my baby girl, I’m amazed that I brought her into this world. As I sit in this traffic I know that I am alone in my head, finding bliss in silence, or the ridiculous morning radio show. It’s Me Time when she’s napping and I have 2 hours to eat and shower in luxury. It’s Me Time when she plays for herself for an hour and I can write this silly group of words. It’s Me Time when the babes are in bed and me and my honey are snuggling on the couch watching (and living) Parenthood.
It’s my Life – and it has plenty of Me in it. Now I have to learn how to use My Time better.
That was an example of the kind of blogging I don’t do – but wish I did. I don’t do it because I don’t think it’s good enough. I don’t do it because I (and only I, of course) am judging it against some invisible hierarchy of blog writing. I don’t do it because I expect more of myself. It doesn’t feel worthy of publishing my stream of thought.
No, I can’t do that. It’s like leaving the house without make up (to me). It’s like giving a present unwrapped. It’s messy – and I’m a neat freak.
No, I won’t just publish a stream of consciousness blog. I will write it once and then I will read it later and rewrite small parts of it. I’ll close the document and reopen it, read it and rewrite it again. Small changes, usually. I’ll struggle about what goes where, ensuring that it flows and I move things around. My journalism training is my Fairy Godmother sitting over my training; I still think back to our AP Guide with every comma, dash or semi-colon. I read it aloud. Finally I wonder if what I wrote makes sense or if anyone will give a shit. I hope it does. I doubt myself – and then publish anyway.
Then I sit and wait for comments or response. I wait to see what my boyfriend will think, what my dad will think, what my good friend, the writer will think. Mostly I get good feedback. At times I’ve written relatively calm pieces on touchy subjects (like breastfeeding or divorce) and those too yielded positive responses.
But still, I don’t publish stream of consciousness. Do people respond to pieces because of the quality of the writing or because of the general idea? In an age of texting and tweeting, where we’ve become conditioned to be succinct, raw and engaging to get attention or initiate conversation in any social networking situation. Is the art of more formal writing going out the window for bloggers?
I’ve been amazed to see the success of some women bloggers out there. Women like <a href="http://www.dooce.com/">Heather Armstrong</a> who launched an entire empire from one blog. I read her blog and think – I’m just as good of a writer as her, aren’t I? I’ve got a matching set of baggage to go with hers; my stories are no more tame. What made her so much better?
She was consistent. She was committed. She was raw and honest. She was real – and that’s what people want to read. She is like the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bukowski">Bukowski</a> blogger – and I should strive to be that good. For that purpose.
Or I could just stay being me – and add in the commitment and consistency bit.
It’s snowing again. I see the white powdery flakes falling outside my dark window 17 flights up in the sky. I realize we are all just snowflakes floating through this earth – no one any better than another – just different.
Recently my 8-year-old said how he hated his voice on the answering machine. I told him that our voices sound very different to ourselves rather than how the rest of the world hears us. I wonder if that’s how it works with writer’s voice. Do others read my words and hear something entirely different than I said them?
I’ve never had writer’s block. I have dozens of notebooks with stories and ideas and words. Words, glorious words, they’re the heart of me. I have so many of them, they corrode my insides if I don’t get them out. If I could publish all of these words as they come out – won’t I be honoring two commitments at once – the one to myself and the world?
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