Yeah, so it’s day seven and I’m pretty sure I have nothing more that’s interesting to say to you people. I go down my list of blog ideas and reject each one, convinced that they’re boring, repetitive, precious, stupid, overwrought, snobby, etc, etc. This is how my internal editor manifests.

So where do we go from here, folks? Why am I “talking” in this way, that is, through these blogs? I keep getting tangled up in the question of meaning: What is blogging for? What is writing for? What is creative expression for? I tend to assume that writing is a commodity, the currency I’m supposed to exchange for fame, attention, money, posterity. But the fact is, only a small percentage of people who write stuff actually become famous (much less wealthy). So what do the rest of us do?

Writing for its own sake is a hard concept for me to understand. Which tells me, again, that my tendency is to view the world from the “outside in” rather than from the “inside out” –  looking outside myself for meaning and purpose rather than inside.

A friend once asked me, “How would you want to feel, if you were on the New York Times bestseller list?” I return to this question again and again. What kind of emotional or spiritual experiences do I want to have as a result of my writing, and are they possible only through generally accepted markers of “success”?

  1. I want to feel connected to other people, like I’m writing about things they’ve experienced, too, and that we both recognize it. I love it when you guys leave comments, because it’s less like I’m talking in a virtual, empty room.
  2. I want to feel vital. Dynamic. Alive. Like I’m growing.
  3. I want attention. Preferably positive. This one is sticky, since wanting attention is usually judged as something childish. And how much attention is enough?
  4. I want to flex my writing muscles, to practice the skills I already have and tackle new ones.
  5. I want to join the long line of writers – all those people who have made marks on paper in an attempt to communicate.

I can access some of these feelings and experiences right now, just by blogging. I don’t have to wait for the New York Times or for Oprah. I don’t have to worry about how many people are following my blog – I can enjoy those of you who already are. This is comforting.

But there’s still the nagging question: How to balance radical acceptance (I am most likely not going to be the next wildly successful book author) with ambition (I am going to continue to write and work to put my writing out there in wider and wider circles)?

What do you think? The floor is open for comment.


About Kate

Things are weird in the wide world -- and like everyone else, most days I'm used to it. But to shake things up for myself, I like to notice and write about stuff that strikes me as both beautiful and strange, fascinating and repulsive, sweet and sour -- like how the steamy, stinky air that comes up from the BART vents at 16th Street Mission reminds me of being twenty-two, apparently immortal, and in love.

10 responses »

  1. lornamurphy says:

    Hey, looks like I’m your first third-figure follower! How does THAT feel? With only 3 myself, i can imagine it’s pretty good. I loved this blog – I’ve only just started blogging but can empathise with a lot of your thoughts here. I’m seeing blogging as a way to explore creativity and connect that with the outside world. Keep it up! X

  2. Debbie Gilman says:

    Thanks for your writing. It gives me a moment of contemplation or a chuckle each day.

  3. Love your honesty Kate. I think for me, the idea of attention really comes down to being seen – witnessed – And when feelings or experiences are written out for others to read, its my way of putting my little toe in the water and seeing how the ripples move outward. Keep on writing girl. I love your perspective!

  4. sweetmother says:

    this is going to sound ass-backwards and maybe like bad advice, but here goes anyway… i try to think of writing as a compulsion or an addiction rather than an ambition. now, some people would say that’s not healthy. but, there are healthy addictions and compulsions, like those workout freaks and people who are addicted to doing well academically. i think of my writing that way. it makes it more hunter s thompson-esque — sure hunter wanted fame and fortune (those thoughts are unavoidable, natural, human and good motivators), but he wrote like an addict. you know how an addict is – they must have that next drink – it doesn’t matter if they have no money – they’ll beg, it doesn’t matter if they have kids – the kids will wait (or worse!), it doesn’t matter how, where, why, or with whom, it just matters that they get that drink. it just matters that i write. write or die. maybe when we do that, the rest comes? i don’t know. i’m still working it all out. anyway, a great and thoughtful post. much love, sm

    • Kate says:

      Hey SM! Thanks for reading. Writing as addiction rather than ambition. Interesting! I go in and out of feeling compelled to write…that’s what confuses me. But I suppose that the fact that whether I’m writing or not bugs me is proof that it’s a compulsion of sorts! I admire you so much for your daily blogs.

  5. Clay says:

    Why does anyone do art? It’s because it’s part of them. It’s one way to express themselves. Notoriety isn’t why you do it, even though it might come because you do it. You do it like breathing, because it gives you life. Just keep writing Kate because it is important to you.

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