The other day I was talking to Jen, one of my best friends, who lives in New York, and she was telling me that it's unfair that she can keep up with my life via my blog, but I can't keep up with hers because I'm not on Facebook. She quickly admitted that the real reason she wants me on Facebook is to "like" her pictures, because in truth I keep up with her life just fine through email and phone calls. Still, I told her that Facebook drives me batty because the updates that are personal (as opposed to just links to news and crap) are positive and self-flattering to a wildly disproportional degree. (At least that's how it seems to me when I scan someone else's Facebook feed and am rapidly bored to tears.)
To be fair, some people, writers especially, use blogs (and Twitter, which, let's remember, is a microblogging platform as much as it's a social network) the same way, as a vehicle for self-promotion, for "building your personal brand." But I don't bother reading those blogs. My two favorite writer blogs these days are Molly Says (Molly Laich) and Frances Farmer Is My Sister (Kate Zambreno). What I love about these blogs, aside from the fact that I love the way Molly and Kate write (which is another way of saying that I love the way they think), is that they aren't an exercise in maintaining the illusion that life is always fun, happy and on an obvious upward trajectory career- and success-wise. Instead, they are confident enough to show self-doubt, to reveal flaws and general life messiness. I'm not the first person to say this but guess what? If you pretend your life is perfect all the time, nobody believes you, and if your life is perfect all the time, you're boring.
Here are some recent snippets from Kate Zambreno's blog:
I will not write anything this weekend, most likely, and will spend it recovering. This morning I read the Bookforum review of Heroines that's in the new issue. I can only describe the experience of reading it as devastating. There has become such a taboo in our literary culture about writing or venting when we receive a bad review. But the thing is, and I've spent some time thinking about whether I should write about it, this wasn't just a bad review, it was a dangerous, mean-spirited, intellectually dishonest review, and the irony is, it was a review that was not aware of itself as committing the same sort of critical crimes against a woman writer, the same sort of shaming and silencing and disciplining, that is itself the subject of the book. (from "one can be dumb and sad at exactly the same time" 8-31-12)
Toxic shock on the Internet. I begin to be obsessed with myself as a minor author in society. Two versions of the minor: the anonymous, the Solanas, and then the one who deranges the master language, as D&G write of Kafka. Perhaps these are the same. I begin googling myself obsessively. I visit my Goodreads page. My novel Green Girl is involved in some sort of brutal bloodsport literary prize, where it is decimated, where I feel decimated. I take to my blog to rant this all out. I have just taught Sarah Kane’s perfect crystalline text of fury, Psychosis 4.48 to my Women and Madness class. I expel my alienation. Then I erase it all. I suicide my blog.
Feeling sometimes like Carrie at the prom—it is her alienation and fury that sets everything on fire.
I decide I must expel all the toxins from my system. I go on a juice cleanse. I drink beet juice that stains my fingers, my cutting board. I shit out pink, mingling too with my darker menstrual blood in the toilet bowl.
I am psychotic.
I write so as not to suicide. And yet—I suicide. I stop writing. Whenever I don’t write I commit violence to myself. I write instead of kicking and screaming. I write instead of dying. (from "Apoplexia, Toxic Shock and Toilet Bowl: Some Notes on Why I Write" 7-4-12)
And from Molly Laich's blog:
Jesse’s an orphan and a roofer and he stares at me for what I consider to be uncomfortable lengths of time. He tells me I move through the world awkwardly, which I already knew but it’s always devastating to be reminded. He said to me, “I feel embarrassed for you sometimes,” and well, that makes two of us.
The first week I lived here he asked me where he could read some of my writing, and I told him about this blog. I watched him read through every post, and he laughed in a way I found uncomfortable and a little terrifying. Every day since, he asks me, “Have you updated your blog yet?” He says he wants me to write about him. People often don’t mean that, I find. Actually, most people don’t even say that. We will see.
Jesse is almost always mad at me, and I find it frustrating and exhilarating. I keep trying to learn the rules, but they’re always changing. There are no rules! He’s got bright white teeth and expressive eyebrows. He rotates between a few torn up t-shirts and camouflage cargo shorts. Jesse stares at himself in the mirror constantly. I find him egotistical and difficult.
When I watch Jesse pick the best cucumbers out of a pile of cucumbers, I start to fall in love with him, and then he opens his mouth and says something. (from "my domestic situation so far." 9-6-12)
I guess what I'm saying is that I like people who are sometimes devastated, who are OK with confronting the devastating.