My first online blogging was done via LiveJournal way back whenever. I had a small group of readers whose LJ’s I also read. We commented on each other’s posts and it all felt cosy and fun. I was a little wary about being discovered so I used a pseudonym and fake names for all the folk I wrote about, but otherwise it was truth all the way. Then I set up “A Salted”, a blog in which I discussed working in a big bookshop and writing and reading. It was less gossipy than LJ, but still it was definitely a personal blog. Then came this one. I have way more publications to my name and I wanted to feature them and promote my writing. I also review books. Sometimes I interview other writers, beginning the Smash Lits interviews because I get so incredibly bored by all the writer blog tours. I prefer to read blogs that make me feel I am reading about a person. I hate twitter accounts that are repeated links to someone’s writing and RT’s of praise and fake reviews. (Five *****’s to Sara Crowley’s extraordinary story!) Facebook pages full of dry self promotion. Blogs that drone on. Who cares?
I have become so cautious about what I say, I don’t tell the truth about my life to anyone really. I am fake and polite and careful at all times. What would happen if I told the truth? Oh my goodness, people might know how I feel and what’s going on, and then what? How…exposing.
We live at a time when I can watch “Reality” TV shows in which young people will have sex, get drunk, show their entire bodies, but never reveal themselves. It’s a curious honesty. Big Brother contestants sleep together unabashed, yet refuse to discuss whether or not they might date as if suggesting they might want a relationship opens them up to a potential embarrassment far greater than showing their genitalia to the cameras. It feels as if having sex with someone is fine, but wanting the hand-holding, chatty bit of a partnership is too much.
It’s six months since dad died and it very much feels like my life has divided into before he died and after. After has been miserable as hell. I look at pictures or think of things and go, ah, yeah, that was before dad died. That was before I lost the weird innocence I didn’t know I had.
My new job is great. It’s the one bright spot in an otherwise terrible year.
There are so many things I don’t talk about. I keep secrets and lock away so much sadness that I may explode.
People say you find out who your friends are in times of crisis. What if you find out you don’t have any?
At my dad’s funeral the church was full. He was such a friendly, popular guy many people wanted to pay their respects. I don’t know who would come to mine; not so many, that’s for sure. I went to a neighbour’s funeral last week. Her husband died 25 years ago and they didn’t have children. After all her struggles, her endurance, her keeping on with a smile and joke, life ended. That’s what it does. She was 96 and she had told me all her friends were dead, even the younger ones.
We get through our lives however we do, and it ends. That’s a certainty. I will die. You will die. Everyone we love will die. And in the meantime I’m alive, I’m sad, I’m pissed off, I’m increasingly afraid my life will end before I have written my fucking novel, I’m fat, flawed, exasperated, but I do my best to put some good out into the world, to be a decent person, to keep on keeping on even though the ground has turned out not to be solid and it all feels so bloody hard.
My most used saying of 2016 so far is, “It’s difficult…”
6 thoughts on “It’s difficult…”
I’ve had a shit couple of years too, Sara. Solidarity x x
Ach, I’m truly sorry to hear that, Nuala. Solidarity indeed. Xx
I love to read something real. Thank you. I ache sometimes with grief altho it’s been a long time now. The lines between before and after are beginning to blur but my loss of Dad was marked by the turn of the century so it’s indelible in more than one way. There is no getting past it but it’s more steeped in my life.
Thanks, Josie. It’s good to know it might stop being such a stark before/after distinction. That grief ache – it’s an awful thing, but we know we loved and were loved (and still love). Best wishes.
I think a lot of us have become disillusioned with blogging. I’ve been doing it for just over nine years and I was patient—they (though how they knew I’ve no idea) said I had to be patient—but after an initial influx people started to bunk off and then vanished completely. I’m not complaining because I used to read over two hundred blogs—and I DO mean read and not simply subscribe to (it seemed only fair that if I expected people to get involved in my world I should get involved in theirs)—but it quickly stopped being fun and turned into a chore. Part of the problem was lack of scope. I stuck pretty rigidly to literary blogs which is how I ran across yours but what’s there really to say about writing that hasn’t been said before by people far more capable or at least more eloquent? I took the whole thing seriously, wrote about what I was reasonably confident on and then started researching new topics and for a few years, yes, it was fun and even educational. But it wasn’t really helping me sell books. I wasn’t pushy—they (them again) said “pushy” was a definite no-no—so unlike some others I tried to mention my writing in passing and hope that regular readers would start to feel the cumulative effect. But that never really happened. Certainly not after the first book because that was the time e-books started to become popular and then suddenly everyone was publishing and it became very clear what people (the kind of people who bought e-books) were interested in reading: not literary fiction, that’s what. And yet I keep with the blog. Why? Out of habit really. Not to been seen as a quitter. To be the last man standing; I only know of a couple of literary blogs that’ve been running longer than mine and no one publishes as regularly as me. I’ve seen a number of blogs by writers devolve though into weekly chats about their lives, funny stories about road rage or standing in line at the post office. It’s easy to see why. As I’ve said there’s only so much you can say about writing. On the whole though I’ve tried to avoid opening up too much about the offline me. I talk about my wife because everyone knows her but that’s it. I respect the privacy of others in my life whose online lives never get past Facebook.
What’s the difference between privacy and secrecy? We all keep things to ourselves we don’t want to share. It’s not a bad thing. And it doesn’t make you a fake. The word’s redundant: we’re all fakes. It simply requires a change in perspective. Absolute honesty is not a good thing. In theory it sounds like it might be but as we’re incapable of it stop thinking it matters. Online you present an aspect of yourself, Sara-the-writer. And that’s fine. It’s no different to being professional. You dress appropriately for work but is that YOU? No, it’s what’s expected of you. Imagine if you were honest to your kids! Christ. With them you’re “the mum” and the rest of you gets put to the side as it should be when you’re with them. Or at least until they’re old enough to cope with the nuances of your personality but even then there’ll be stuff you probably won’t share. And if you’re like that with your flesh and blood why feel bad about what you choose to divulge to strangers?
The Internet has devalued the word “friend.” It’s turned it into an awkward verb: we friend people when once we used to befriend them. In the real world I’ve never had more than a handful of friends and all of them drifted away. Not out of badness or anything but because life does that. Online I’ve developed friendships with three people, one of whom I’ve met, one of whom I’ve talked to on the phone and all of them I’ve exchanged e-mails with. I’m content with three. Three’s good. Most of my Facebook friends I couldn’t tell you one single thing about them apart from their name, not where they live or if they’re married or whether they prefer tea to coffee. These are people I run into at the virtual water cooler and never encounter them elsewhere. If you post that you’re dog or your dad’s just died—to paraphrase Leonard Cohen—then a few people will offer their condolences or LIKE your comment. Expect nothing; everything else is a bonus.
We will all die one day. Some of us sooner than others. You may never write your novel—well, millions of people never write novels and get by—and I may never write another (I haven’t even finished a poem in almost two years) but there has to be more to life than that. There’s certainly more to life than the ruddy Internet.
Yes, in the first few years of blogging I read, commented and kept up with many more blogs than I do now and it felt useful, informative, fun, and made me feel less alone. A stay at home writing person’s water cooler, tho’ lit blogs, which are my personal interest area, can only say so much before they get repetitious and dull. That initial glow from finding like minds extinguishes once you’ve read dozens. Plus I think there are so many social media outlets to choose from now; Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Blogs, Snapchat, Google + and so on. You pick your fave and stick with them, but it dilutes the amount of people reading/commenting. Or you use all of them and seem to be spamming.
I understand what you are saying about secrecy/privacy. My response would be that *I* get something out of being open (about some things) and that I have noticed my posts have become less valuable to me as they have become increasingly formal. I don’t mind what others choose to divulge or not, but I am most interested in blogs that feel to me as if I am getting to know someone.
“Imagine if you were honest to your kids!”
Ha! Good point, well made 🙂
I do have friends and am lucky enough to have even made some excellent ones via this strange online world, but life isn’t a movie and in times of crisis it seems people are often busy firefighting their own problems or merely wrung out from dealing with daily doings. I haven’t divulged what’s going on in my life because I choose to respect the privacy of those around me, but this blog felt like a safe space to admit I am struggling. It felt a wee bit like a message in a bottle.
“There’s certainly more to life than the ruddy Internet.”
Absolutely. I spend most of my time Out There in The Real World, which is why its actually quite lovely to find some sanctuary right here on my blog.
Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, it’s appreciated.