Thursday, September 29, 2011

hesitant reclaim

Yesterday I said that I have to reclaim the blog or close it for good. This being a product of my vanity, what I expected from my dear readers was an outcry of shocked indignation. "How can you even think about it?" was the only possible response. Instead, what I got was the valid question of whether I was going to write fiction when I stop blogging, as if that were a foregone conclusion. I'm not going to answer that question. I can't – I simply don't know whether I've got fiction in me.

Taking one step back, I'm not sure yet that the blog needs to go. It's certainly of no use to me in its current form. It doesn't help me develop my writing skills and thus defies its purpose. But instead of shutting it down, I think I can claim it back.

When I said yesterday that the blog was a vanity project, I was right in my choice of words but not in my understanding of the situation. There can be no doubt that I write about myself, but I pick my stories with my readership in mind. Sometimes I choose words, phrases, details or mementoes specifically for one reader or another. To some extent, I'm writing for you who are following faithfully.

What I should be doing instead is taking vanity to the next level, by writing for myself as if no audience existed, taking the blog back to its original idea as a vehicle for my learning by doing. The question is whether I should start a new, anonymous blog to avoid the temptation of falling back into the comfort of talking about myself. But maybe, if I write only for myself, the readership will quickly lose interest and dwindle, and there wouldn't be a difference. I might just try that and see where it takes me.


Dee said...

I have started to read (very slowly)Benjamin Franklin's autobiography. If I understood correctly, he meant for it to be partly a way of living his life twice. Since he couldn't go back and do it all over, at least he could recall it. That was one reason he had for writing about himself, anyhow.

Andreas Förster said...

That's a good point, Deidra, and a good reason to keep writing. I just feel too stuck in the way of the blog. I guess I'm taking a little time out. After a month or two, things might start again, maybe in a different way.

Alembic said...

Is your ambition to be a fiction writer unnecessarily constraining your creativity? Is it either or? I think your blog is very intriguing and I subscribe to your notion, which I have oft heard stated by other writers in one form or another, that “dogged persistence” will lead to improved proficiency in writing.

IMHO, there should be no constraint for your blog to follow a consistent pattern or schedule. Your fictionalized autobiography is fun to read and your ability to write so well in non-native English is very impressive. But if you are inspired to write a piece of fiction, why not simply throw it in? Your readers will recognize it as such, I would imagine. Don’t constrain yourself. Mix it up. No need for a new blog.

If you are uninspired to create fiction, keep writing about what works best for you. You are young and with a wee bit of luck, there are many years ahead of you during which unexpected turns and unknown inspiration may push you in-as-yet unimagined directions.

Many writers chose non-fiction as their subject matter. I just finished “1493” and I think Charles C. Mann deftly mixes travel writing, history, and ecology in this very readable book describing our increasingly interlinked world. I do not think it has the thesis-driving focus and clarity of Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs, and Steel”, but it is good writing and a fun way to gain knowledge.

You are a scientist by training. You have a fascinating and remarkable intellect. It seems to me you should not artificially constrain yourself to fiction. Write an essay about what currently interests you at work and post it. You know the ins and outs of the biology of the cell that surely could provide interesting material. How about a humorous and illuminating article about the trashcan mechanism in cells?

I add my voice to the hoards of netizens who encourage you keep writing whatever stirs your fancy. I do not have to caution you not to write crap because you will not.