For a long time now, I’ve been struggling in my attempt to get back in touch with my writer’s voice, and to develop my talents with word craft to where I see myself as a capable communicator and not some half-hearted hobbyist. To that end, I’ve begun pushing myself to pay a closer analytical eye to the various articles I read online on a daily basis and writing regularly in my DayOne journal. Throughout that process, I’ve also started giving this blog a bigger degree of consideration. I’ve asked myself why I haven’t been writing as regularly as I want to be, what the different challenges and mental barriers I encounter are and how I should be working around them, weighed the things I think about writing against the online-identity-appropriate filters, analyzed and questioned the matter from all manner of different angles. Yet it wasn’t until just yesterday that I asked myself the question that should be asked by any self-respecting writer: why would anyone want to read what I write? I managed to think of a few reasons as to why others may find interest in the things I write about, but when I substituted “I” for “anyone”, I found myself at a lack for an answer.
When I look back at the things I’ve written, my primary audience has always been myself. From long form LiveJournal entires in the early 2000’s to recent social network updates, I always share my thoughts with the primary goal in mind being to leave a record somewhere of the events in my life. While the engagement that comes from sharing is gratifying, it pales in comparison to the satisfaction that comes from being able to sit down at a later date and revisit the past in detail. Yet, the entire time that I’ve been working on building out this blog, I haven’t felt a sense of ownership over my output. Without that sense of engagement, it’s hard to get a feeling of accomplishment from creating new content. More importantly, it doesn’t allow me to look forward to looking back on my writings, the whole reason I do it in the first place.
When I used to write on the web in the past, the internet landscape was a lot different than it is today. Back then, screen names and their inherent sense of anonymity were the norm. With search engine technology not being anywhere near as refined and efficient as it is today, it was easy to focus on writing itself, and not having to worry about the personal brand online activity creates or it’s real-world ramifications. Back in mid-August, I pruned the content on this blog in an effort to wipe the slate clean and start focusing on tuning up my online identity. But in the time since then, every time I’ve had a new idea for a post topic, the enthusiasm behind it gets killed when I start questioning whether or not it’s something I should even bother investing the time to write. In short, the self-censoring is killing my creative drive. Questioning whether or not I want something I write tied to me or publicly available introduces concerns in my mental process that feel unnatural, and editing myself to build an “ideal image” feels dishonest.
Over the recent weeks I’ve repeatedly contemplated throwing in the towel and dismantling the site, quitting blogging altogether and sticking to offline journaling & social networking. But after so much time and so many repeated attempts that have ended in failure, I can’t bring myself to walk away from this blog. When I first contemplated having a personal site back in my high school days, I envisioned it as a portfolio and public repository for my thoughts and ideas. By the time I finally acquired hosting service in my mid-late 20’s, I’d lost touch with that creative spark and internal drive. As much as my year of isolation served as an opportunity to identify all of the things I wanted to remove from my life, it was also a chance to revisit my past and remember all of the traits I’ve lost along the way that I’d like to reconnect with, the most relevant to this post being my self-confidence I had as a teenager. I recognize that a good part of it may have been the arrogance of youth, but I also remember everything that was going on in my home life at the time, and how much it forced me to become self-reliant. As a result, I had an uncompromising sense of identity and the unwillingness to apologize for being who I am.
While I still aim to build this blog to be what I initially wanted it to be in regard to my creative endeavors, the events of life in my 20’s has resulted in a new additional objective. Last year at the age of 26, I did not like who I was. I refused to accept the person I was then as the culmination of all of my past experiences, and sought to push myself towards realizing my idealized self. Writing about that change helps me define that self, and pushing it to the web gives it a feeling officiation; once it’s out there, I either have to adhere to it or make a fraud out of myself. It’s for all these reasons that I write, both for myself and on the web.