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after all that silence

I’m going to kick the tires on this thing and see if it goes.

Because I like to make things complicated, and perhaps overthink things, I made up a reason to stop blogging which was more than “way too busy with other things”. And while “way too busy with other things” was technically true, and a lot of things fell out of my life when I started teaching full time, I was also having a crisis of faith, a crisis which applied not just to my blogging but to my writing generally, and even to sharing anything at all.

I don’t know how this is going to sound to anyone not inside my head and I’m sorry in advance if it sounds precious or overdramatic or obnoxious or excessively self-deprecating. On the inside of my head it’s a simple enough truth I wrestle with and it’s this: I’m pretty sure no one needs to hear what I have to say or read what I have to write. This isn’t a particularly painful or upsetting idea to me, by the way. I’m just trying to work through what I do about it.

Of course there are all sorts of reasons to say and write and post beyond whether people need to read or hear it. I get that. But for me it is – at least in great part – worth doing if I have messages to impart. And I’m just not sure that I do. Or ever did. Somehow having the ability to blog and write became synonymous with it being a good idea for me to do so. Talk about unexamined assumptions. Because when I look around I find I don’t need more of people’s ideas and opinions and thoughts and input and stories. I need less. I’m too connected. And so why would I add to the too much? Thus begins the crisis of faith, by examining what had heretofore been a happy, simple maxim: I can write, and pretty decently, so I do.

You can see that this line of thinking more or less leads to me never ever blogging or writing again, because measuring the value of “something worth saying” is super nebulous and abstract. And you can see by my typing right now that it chafes me to buy into that unmeetable standard and give up, despite being more or less proud of my awesome skill with giving things up.

Not telling anyone I’m having a crisis of faith until it’s mostly over is also standard operating procedure for me. I’m not a sharer. My internal landscape is mine. And private. You have your own. So it’s weird that I blogged so openly and directly for as long as I did, actually. Part of that worked by imagining myself with no readers, like you tell yourself people aren’t paying that close attention when you’re on stage or that no one cares if you mess up a little on this project you’re creating. The directness isn’t a problem for me. Neither is the honesty. But the continual revelation? That’s hard. And, I suspect, boring to read.

So the world and its people don’t need this. Don’t need me typing at them. Now I have to decide whether I do it anyway. It’s a big decision, and it’s also one I have to keep making. Maybe today I decide, yes, I do it anyway. Maybe tomorrow I decide something else. Certainly there’s been a whole long string of days where I decided not to, hasn’t there? It definitely helps that people are largely on other platforms like tumblr and twitter these days, so that whole “no one’s reading this” is still working to my advantage.

Generally, I’m at a point where I realize that most of the time my best move is to STFU and listen. That’s kind of a hard place to stand for someone with a lot of words. Which I definitely am. Blogging feels like the opposite of listening. It feels like piling up more noise, obscuring clarity.

To be clear, I won’t accept anyone else’s assertion that I have things worth saying. That’s a measurement that only I can (and get to) make. I’m not actually fishing for input here, though of course the available comment section says you’re welcome to provide it. That hasn’t changed.

This whole post is actually just throat clearing for something I do want to address, a topic I (possibly foolishly) would like to invite people to think with me about. But I don’t know if I can. So I poke the blog. See if it still stands. See if it’s going to fall on me or bear up the weight of my din and blather.

One last word. This post is excessively navel-gazeish and introspective. It’s not about you and your blog or your fiction writing. I’m not seeking an army of blog and/or writing deserters to take up this doubt and uncertainty as their own. All of this is likely invalid for you, at least I hope it is, and if it is, don’t put the shoe on. I’m not secretly telling you you’re wasting your time. Because nobody and everybody is wasting their time. You choose for you. I gotta choose for me.

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  • What I purchased on Black Friday:
    1. Lunch for me and my family at the Blue Elephant: $30
    2. Gas: $19.99
    3. A pack of gum for my daughter and a York Peppermint Patty for me: $2.25

      So, you see, to the tune or $52.24, I am doing my part to keep this great consumerist state going.

  • Things I am no longer doing, and glad for it:
    1. Shopping at Target
    2. Reading new Gene Wolfe

      I love “Seven American Nights” and “The Death of Dr. Island” and “The Tree is My Hat” and “Golden City Far” and always will, but the new stuff doesn’t work for me, and I don’t want to have to take Wolfe down from the genius pedestal, so I’ve decided I’ve met my Wolfe quota for this lifetime.

    3. Flying

      There’s only one way to call bullshit on the latest incarnation of security theater, and that’s to refuse to play the game. I don’t have to fly anywhere, and I’m not going to.

  • Things I am no longer doing, but wish I were:
    1. yoga
    2. writing
    3. composting (the composter was among the things destroyed during the work on the house, and I don’t yet have a new one)
  • Story types that have to overcome my prejudices to get bought at PodCastle:
    1. Stories about 9/11
    2. Stories about New York
    3. Stories set in China or Japan, written by Westerners or containing talking animals, Samurai or ninjas
    4. Stories with untrustworthy worldbuilding
    5. Stories without sensory details, other than the visual (aka, lack of sensory details makes Anna cry)
    6. Stories where the exotic locale exists only in the service of the white, Western male hero, to better highlight his manliness and glory.
    7. Stories written with the sensibilities of film, or about films.
    8. Stories that are ostensibly philosophical, particularly religiously philosophical, but never go farther than philosophy and/or religion 101.
    9. Stories that have stated morals
  • Conversely, stories which will have special appeal for me:
    1. Lyrical or poetic work, full of sensory details
    2. Stories that are unflinching in the tough parts
    3. Stories that draw from atypical milieus, but not if the milieu is just set dressing and not integral
    4. Stories with questions about identity, the nature of life, and free will
    5. Plots that turn on unintended consequences
    6. Stories that have language and communication as a primary theme or plot piece
    7. Stories that reflect on the numinous, without cynicism
    8. Stories that approach, but do not necessarily explain, the weirdness of the world

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