I read blogs here and there. Really wonderful, beautiful blogs. I read Julianna Baggott’s blog because I found her poem, “For Furious Nursing Baby,” in The Cincinnati Review, and I needed to know, How does a prolific writer also mother? How does a prolific mother also write? I read Steve Kuusisto’s blog because I need the sanity, poetry, and comfort that I find in his voice on disability issues. I read Lee Martin’s blog because he gives readers a glimpse into his creative writing workshops, and I used to have the privilege of sitting in on them, and now I have the awesome responsibility of leading my own, and I need ideas.
I just wrote about three blogs; I wrote the word “need” three times. It’s true. I need these voices. That’s why I read these blogs.
But I have never written a blog. Does the world really need another blog? I’ve asked myself. Of course not. Blogging is narcissistic, I’ve thought. Not when Baggott or Martin or Kuusisto do it, of course, and not when hundreds of other amazing voices toss their thoughts into the internet-ether for strangers’ consumption, scrutiny, celebration. But surely it is if I do it.
I recently read a mother’s opinion on kids’ shyness. She said she doesn’t find it cute when her child hides behind her skirt if a new person says hello. She considers it an act of selfishness. Too brutal an attitude on a kids’ burgeoning social skills? Maybe so. But hear this out: when you hide, she argued, you’re not thinking about the other person, about how they feel to be ignored. You’re thinking about yourself.You’re too stuck inside your own shy little enveloping world. So she lovingly teaches her kids to look into the new person’s eyes, smile, and say, “Hello.”
I’ve probably been internet hiding. No author-site for me. Yes, I’ve got a collection of poems just released, a memoir forthcoming in the fall, yes I check the author-sites of dozens of writers I love, just to know what’s up in their lives. But otherwise, I’m internet-invisible.
My favorite neighbors are the ones that unabashedly wave and smile. They’re unselfish enough to get out of their own heads and greet the world. Hello world. One executes a delightful double-armed wave midst her morning jog. It’s awesome. She’s awesome. I wave back and resolve to be more energetic in my neighborly hellos.
I get my groceries out of the trunk quickly, walk with weird speed to the front door, like I can’t be caught outside. What if someone sees me? Sees me living?
A very weird tendency for a nonfiction writer who writes an awful lot about her life.
All this to say, maybe it’s narcissistic to hide. To pretend your voice shouldn’t be heard. To be afraid enough of what people say in response to your words that you only murmur into private rooms, with audiences of zero, one, two.
Or maybe in forty years we’ll look back on the blogging phenomenon with scorn. All that manic typing. All that noise. All those extra words. Just who did those bloggers think they were?
I don’t know. I don’t live forty years from now. And until then, I’ll will myself to say, hello world. Double-armed hello! Did I just write anything stupid above? Anything I should censor for X Y Z? I’ll try to shut the manic, self-conscious murmuring and keep both arms waving. Big smile. Big hello.