Wherein I wrestle – once again – with the likelihood that a return to blogging can sustain itself.
The problem, I think, is my compulsion to compare everything I write to everything everyone else has written. I can’t write a short story and just be pleased with it. I write a short story, compare it to Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral,” and immediately think, “Holy cow, I suck.” Because of course.
This is true of blogging, too. I can’t merely be content to amass a body of work, some of which has been, if I’m going to be completely honest, slightly better than mediocre. No, I have to compare it to the best of the medium – like this little masterpiece, which two days ago cast me into my latest paroxysm of self-doubt.
So you combine this very real need to measure myself against the very best in any given genre with the raging inferiority complex that infects every other dimension of my life, and it makes perfect sense that most of my writing endeavors are doomed to failure.
To write, you have to feel like you have something worth saying. I don’t think I do.
But the guilt persists, and therein lies the tension. I’m a writing teacher, after all, and a member of a National Writing Project-afililated site. How can I espouse the importance of writing without walking the walk?
I’m not sure anxiety is an excuse for hypocrisy.
Here’s my current solution vis-a-vis this blog, even if it’s a temporary one (and it’s probably one I should apply to my life in general): lower my expectations. Not every post has to be profound. Not every post has to have a point. Not every post has to hold its own as an essay exploring the political or educational or pop cultural landscape. Nothing I post here will win the Pulitzer, so stop approaching this like the fate of the free world hangs in the balance. No more two-hour-long excursions spelunking in the depths of my soul. It’s no good for anyone.
When I swing for the fences with every post I seem to strike out a lot.
Maybe playing small ball is the answer. Maybe tempering my goals for this blog will help me appreciate it for what it is instead of what it is not. It’s a place to record and document, to capture moments in time, and maybe – if I’m lucky – something I write will transcend its humble origins. Blind pigs, truffles, etc.
If history is anything to go by, we’ll all know within a week.
The Lucksmiths – Warmer Corners (2005)
Peter Heller – The Dog Stars (2012)
Tim Tharp – The Spectacular Now (2008)