Why, why for the love of god, blog? That is the question I have been asking myself, over and over. Why? Why risk your identity being stolen, or your mother finding this? Why give employers yet another reason not to hire you? Why risk embarrassing yourself in such an incredibly public way that some guy you’ve never met, in a country you don’t know how to spell, could be pointing at his computer screen, ROFLing, not with you, but at you? Why, you ask? Why does the world need another blog? Especially yours?
Well, I can’t answer that last question. I don’t even have a cat to post pictures of for your entertainment. Maybe it’s not a good sign that my first-ever blog post is about rationalizing my blog’s own existence, but maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe it means I will think deeply about what posts I spew into existence on the internet. Maybe it is a sign that I will use my blog for good instead of evil. Or maybe it’s a sign that I will constantly be trying to justify my blog’s existence in annoying, long-winded posts like this one. Probably it means I’m really bad at this and should stick to writing fiction. Well, there’s only one way to find out.
But first, an exercise in thinking way to much into things:
RATIONALIZATION PART 1: DOUBLE DOG DARE
My first reason for blogging is that I kind of dared myself into it because I was afraid of all the scary lurking consequences of blogging mentioned above, (Mom! Employers! The mocking laughter of the masses!), and needed to prove something to myself. (Not sure what. A remarkable capacity for self-destructive behavior? A bottomless propensity for bad decisions? Hero-like fearlessness in the face of the entire world?) I had–still have–this nagging fear that any opinions I shared might be held against me, that I may be ridiculed by anonymous commenters with vile and uncreative language, that I would be harshly judged by thousands of unseen faces looming up out of dark rooms, lit only by the pallid light of their computer screens.
Say, for instance, I blog about the strip club my boyfriend and I may or may not have gone to the other night during a misguided trip to the French Quarter, and I use it as a jumping off point into my thoughts on the sex industry, prostitution, and the simultaneous power and objectification of women. (I probably will talk about this in a later post, cause damn, isn’t sex interesting?) That line of thinking could rock some people’s boats. [Insert obligatory “if the boat’s a-rockin'” joke here.]
Now, I do not fear people with opposing opinions, as long as they can voice them in a respectful manner and back them up with reasons that aren’t totally insane (i.e. not “cause Jesus said so”). In fact, as my boyfriend, my best friend, and my mother will tell you, I love a good debate (even if they don’t). So I don’t fear disagreement. What I fear is the angry, righteous, feeble-minded hate-slingers out there. The kind of people whose comments you see if you dare scroll past the end of the news article, the anonymous (cowardly) comments that blindly disparage minorities, women, LGBTs, the lower class–anyone who is different from them. I try not to read the comments on news websites for that reason–because if I do, I can’t leave my house without wondering what kind of hate is curled in the minds of the people I pass on the street, what violence of action or words is vibrating their fists or tongues, waiting to be released. It forces me to acknowledge what I usually prefer to ignore: that people are scary.
So that’s one of my fears. But no, I won’t let that stop me from joining in the conversation on topics I believe are important. If anything, it’s a reason to blog more, and more boldly, than ever before! (Trumpets sound.)
RATIONALIZATION PART 2: TO ENSURE I NEVER HAVE A RESPECTABLE JOB AGAIN OUTSIDE OF WRITING FICTION
Yet another worry (yeah, I’m a bit of a worrier): I am also aware of the whole employers-have-a-right-to-see-your-social-media-websites-and-not-hire-you-because-of-your-personal-life-choices thing. Yeah, that’s scary. And wrong. My previous remark about maybe or maybe not having attended a strip club in the presence of my boyfriend is enough for some people to declare me a sexual deviant and not hire me. But, you know, if they hate me and my thoughts and my choices so much, then I probably don’t want to work with them anyway. I mean, in this economy I probably would, at least for a while, because sometimes paying the rent trumps moral integrity. But still.
I realize I am making it sound like I am going to be blogging about super-controversial, political, transgressive things all the time. This will probably not be the case. Probably, a lot of my posts will be about food. Or some good book I read. Or the weird spider bite on my thigh. Probably no one will even read this besides my mom. (What, mom? Strip club? Oh, no no no. Of course that never happened.)
RATIONALIZATION PART 3: NICE TO MEET YOU, PLEASE READ MY STUFF
So what is my other reason for blogging, besides standing strong in the face of the haters? Well, as stated in the “About” section, shameless self-promotion. I am a writer, and I’ve been noticing lately that a lot of other writers have these things called websites. So, in the effort to not be out-done or out-dated, I’m getting on that train. It also makes sense to have a place where people who read one of my stories and actually like it to go and find links to more stories for them to also read and hopefully like. And then there’s something called “networking.” I’m still trying to figure that one out.
RATIONALIZATION PART 4: DEAR GOD WRITE SOMETHING ALREADY
Perhaps the most important reason is simply because now that I am out in the cruel, harsh world, in a city where I don’t yet know any other writers to huddle over coffee with and encourage me and wax on about figurative language in awed tones, I feel I’ve slipped from the discussion. Since I finished my MFA and moved from Nashville to New Orleans nine months ago, I’ve slowly disappeared into the strangling mists of WORK and RESPONSIBILITY and HAVING TO DO THINGS FOR MONEY BESIDES SIT AROUND AND READ AND WRITE. Turns out it’s pretty hard to make yourself sit down and come up with stuff when you’ve worked all day and there’s a backlog of TV shows on your hulu account. Or when your friends are beckoning with beers and glasses of wine. Or when even if you do actually come up with something good on paper, there’s no one required to read it and give you their thoughts on it for a grade. And then there’s the fact that if there’s no deadline and no one holding me accountable, it’s just too damn easy to never get anything done at all. So this is my effort to hold myself accountable and force myself to read more and write more by, well, writing about reading and writing, and also probably cooking misadventures, since I’m trying to learn to do that, and also how ridiculous and fucking expensive weddings are, cause yeah, that’s happening in my life, too. But the point is: there will be this website, out there on the internet, publicly shaming me if I’m too lazy to post on it or have no new publications to list, mocking me with all of its quiet impotence and lack of reader response. And that will be a good thing.
RATIONALIZATION PART 5: WILL THE REAL CLAIRE BURGESS PLEASE STAND UP
Upon Googling myself, I discovered that although my stories published online do appear swiftly, so do blogs and websites of other so-called “Claire Burgesses.” I wanted to make it clear that I am this Claire Burgess and not the other ones. No offense, other Claire Burgesses.
RATIONALIZATION PART 6: MAYBE I’M A NARCISSIST
Yay, blogging! Let’s do this thing.