Staying Private In Public

1102 wc

I forgot that I was trying to write something every day to get into shape for Blaugust. Writing calisthenics, if you will. (I just now learned that I have no idea how to spell the word “calisthenics.” My first attempt was “calusthetics.” It’s entirely possible I have never written that word in a document before in my lifetime.)

Writing is a habit that needs to be exercised, by the way. You can’t just sit down and write out of the blue, just like you can’t just run a marathon out of the blue. Well, you *can* (and should-start writing, that is, not run a marathon) but those first words you write won’t be as good as the ones you write after writing every day for a while. It’s just how it is. It’s why *starting* to write is the most important part-and by far the hardest part-of writing.

Maybe it’s just me. Writing is a very individual sport. Every writer writes differently, and every writer swears that their process is the “right” process, and there is a huge industry in selling tips and tricks for better writing, but you can only take writing advice with a grain of salt, because every writer has to struggle to find their individual process that works for them and nobody else.

I’m rambling. That’s what you do when you sit down at a blank page with no real direction.

Here’s something that bugs me about my writing: I am very inconsistent with the use of contractions. Most writers have a “tell” or two or three in their writing. Words or phrases or techniques that they use repeatedly without meaning to. One of mine is inconsistent contractions. It bugs me a lot when I read back my writing. It’s because sometimes I’m just transcribing words I’m hearing out loud in my head, and sometimes they include contractions and sometimes they don’t, because the words in my head have particular inflections and stresses on the words that don’t necessarily translate to the page. When I read back and edit my writing, I’m no longer hearing the original voices in my head so the inconsistent contractions suddenly sound nonsensical.

Yeah I talk to myself a lot inside my head. So what. I only talk to myself out loud when I’m recording game videos, so it’s perfectly normal.

The reason I remembered to write this post was one particular sentence in Roger’s recent blog post Internet Fame and Fortune.

For most of us, writing brings a small core group of readers who end up getting to know you through your writing.

The part that jumped out at me was “getting to know you through your writing.”

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m very much adopting a “writing persona” when I write. I’m assuming a role. I’m setting aside “me” and stepping into the role of “the writer.” So the idea that anyone can get to know “me” through “my writing” strikes me somewhat discordantly.

The me that you see in these blogs posts is very different from the me that you would see sitting at a library, or at convention, or whatever. (Not that you would ever see me at a library or at a convention. You would see me in my house or probably not at all hehe.)

It’s very much the same with my YouTube videos, actually. What you see there is a bit closer to the real me you would see at a bus stop, but I’m still very much “performing” in those videos. It may not seem like it to the outside world, but I’m making an effort to speak louder and clearer and resonate better so that the audio track sounds better, in the same way I would if I were singing a song. I’m effectively putting on a show, which is what I’m doing with blogging as well.

I suppose there is an argument to be made that the “show” I’m giving is a show of the “real me” deep down inside, or whatever. I’m not terribly convinced by that argument, though. I’ve been burned before by forming real-life relationships through writing, and then finding out the “real life” version of the relationship is far different from the “writing” relationship, so I’m very cautious about forming attachments to writing personas.

I also write in different voices depending on what I’m writing about or how I’m feeling. Right now I’m writing in the “stream of consciousness” voice, or “first draft” voice, where I just write whatever is in my head onto the page and leave it. It results in more frenzied, jangled, nonsensical writing where you never quite know what to expect from sentence to sentence. Other times I write in “technical writer” voice, where precision and teaching is the goal. Sometimes I write in “creative writer” voice, where storytelling is the goal. I’m a different me in all of those writing situations. Usually I try to stick to the topic of games, but I’ve deleted that constraint in the last few days. I just don’t play enough games to write something about them every day anymore. I’ve spent more time writing this post than I’ve spent playing any games today, which is a Sunday (I’ve played no games at all this weekend actually).

This touches on the “art versus the artist” controversy. There are people who won’t consume an artist’s art if they think the artist is a jerk they wouldn’t want to hang out with. (See: Tom Cruise, and about a thousand others in the last couple years.) To me, that conflates two entirely different things. The art is an entirely separate entity from the artist. Monstrous people can create beautiful art, and beautiful people can create monstrous art. I wouldn’t ever presume to know anything about Tom Cruise the person from what I see in his movies.

I think it’s the same with writers. I wouldn’t ever presume to know anything about George R. R. Martin the person after reading A Game of Thrones.

And thus I don’t think you should presume to know much about a blogger from the blog. At least *this* blogger. It’s entirely possible this attitude indicates that I’m blogging wrong. But, you know, see above where I said every writer is different. Every blog is different, too. Some people like to put themselves on display for everyone to see, and that’s fine too. I just prefer to keep the private parts of me private. Probably because I’m old and staying private in public used to be the default, standard behavior.

And that’s today’s deep thought.

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