Friday, February 22, 2013


too much information?

I am awaiting the arrival of the fridge repair man, for the second Friday morning in a row (this time, I am confident, he will prevail over the resident deep freeze gremlins), and thus find myself with a bit of time on my hands.  So here is another post close on the heels of the previous one.  On my mind:  the writer of a blog I read from time to time recently posited that blogs which are not ironic or tongue-in-cheek are embarrassing to read.  I paraphrase here, but in essence the writer couldn't believe that someone would take him- or herself seriously enough to write a blog as if he or she were simply writing about real life to a friend.  Why would anyone do such a thing?  The writer went on to say that people who did write blogs, in this manner or otherwise, were essentially egotists with ulterior motives, presenting tidied-up versions of themselves, and that such writing is ego-driven and hence inherently suspect (since solely-ego-driven action always has a purpose, usually nefarious).

I have to wonder how many books this blog writer has read.  Because long before the advent of the blog, there were these things called books - you know, narratives written by real people, edited to make particular statements about life, both truthful and imagined.  Full of information on all subjects under the sun.  And certainly many authors are egotists, but goodness me, how does anything ever get accomplished in life, by anyone, other than by a real person taming that egotistical voice, even putting it to work, and getting on with the project at hand, whatever that might be?

But those are books, and this is about blogs, and having an online presence.  And what to write about, what to tell.  In other words, how much information is too much information, in a mere blog?  I write about a lot of stuff here, and yesterday's weepy post about overcoming my painting malaise was, for me, balanced right on the cusp of too much.  Should I have just told it to my diary instead?  (I did, as a matter of fact, but in much greater detail, I really really like to keep diaries).   Well, I decided to write some of it here too, because I like to write letters to friends, about reading, painting, the weather, real life, whatever's happening.  And as you know, I realllly like to talk about great books.

But to return to the nameless blog alluded to in the first paragraph, now that I have strayed so far from it:  it is itself ironic and tongue-in-cheek, and is written under a pseudonym.  So I'm taking it with a grain of salt.  But still.  I'd say most of the blogs I read regularly deal with the minutiae of real people's actual lives, and that's exactly why I like them so much.  What say you, if anyone isn't too embarrassed to read this and then leave me a comment on the topic?  Which do you prefer, in entertainment, literature, blog-writing, or otherwise - real life or the made-up persona?  One might say, memoir or fiction (or fiction posing as memoir...)?   An ironic blog or a sincere one?  A carefully-edited slice of life or too much information?   Having read the Diary of Samuel Pepys, and Montaigne's Essays, and Byron's Letters and Journals, ad infinitum, it should be evident which side of the coin toss I prefer.  Although in all honesty, I can sometimes say both!

Where oh where is that fridge guy.  I have a painting to finish today.

I'd posit that blogs that are solely ironic and tongue-in-cheek grow tiresome, that some sincerity and reality are necessary to keep them interesting. Don't change a thing!
agreeing with Dan, don't change a thing. I am careful about what I share and where I share. But to me, your shares have all been very appropriate.

I like bloggers with heart and a willingness to share it. If you want an example of another blog (besides yours) that does this, check out Susan Branch, of blog, to find someone with a great deal of heart, creativity, and a willingness to share bits of her life. I love it.
Let this be a third vote for not changing a thing. So few people know how to write a letter, let alone write one in the first place; it is a lost art. Because you share doesn't mean you are an egotist, far from it. So many people forget that back in the days when actual communication between thinking humans was commonplace, letters were written to friends and family with the appropriate level of personal information and familiarity as was appropriate. I am familiar with blogs that may meet some of the criteria laid out by the anonymous blogger you mentioned, but your posts have none of those characteristics. Your humility is quite apparent in how you write, a noble quality indeed. Most of all, this is primarily a book blog written by a true lover of books and I can't thank you enough for mentioning books I never heard of that are now favorites. I think that true bibliophilic blogs avoid many of the obnoxious triviality, superficiality, gossip, and self-branding that is so common in the "blogosphere."
As far as "ironic" or "tongue-in-cheek" blogs? Well, in most cases that seems (to me anyway) a stated excuse to provide immunity from obvious snobbery, arrogance and other pretentious antecedents. It never ceases to amaze me that hordes of readers comment in a sincere and heartfelt way on posts written by arrogant bloggers that are oozing with insincerity.
This blog is a sanctuary from all that and, thankfully, you aren't the only person who writes sincere, informative, and enjoyable posts. It is far easier to write snarky, unkind drivel (often just copying the same ideas that all the other bloggers are discussing) than to inform and share. How anyone could think such sharing automatically reveals nefarious motivations is beyond me. There is plenty of quick judgement to go around in this world. I will keep coming here for some peace and book talk.
Not the slightest change...

Just be our Sarah.
Antony dear, to quote Oscar Wilde: "Be yourself, everyone else is already taken!" Yes, I will continue to be me, but only since I have no choice in the matter...

Anon, when I was in my early twenties I would say I was world-weary and cynical, and sarcasm and irony were common parlance in my circle of friends. (Postmodernism, thanks for nothing.) It took recovery from heartbreak and distance from the extremely class-conscious college I attended before a sense of natural innocence began to return to me. I thank god it did. I feel younger now than I ever did back then, and I have a strong belief, despite evidence to the contrary, in the goodness of the universe. So, no snark for me, thanks. Been there, done that, and found it unsatisfying and even damaging.

I think the blogger's main point was that all bloggers have an ulterior motive, and even (especially?) if they don't tell you what it is upfront, be sure there still is one, ego-driven. So let's follow this hare for a moment - my original purpose in starting this blog so long ago was to write about books, because I'd written a memoir about my life in books and being a bookseller, and it was going nowhere, so I thought I would start to give what I wrote away, through a blog. I'd always kept a diary or journal anyway, so the blog quickly became a natural extension of that. What I didn't foresee was how much I would enjoy formulating my thoughts about reading, and interacting with people, yes, the book talk! In "real life" I'm a total introvert and being able to talk about books with like-minded people (with the safe screen of distance between us) is very enjoyable for me. Now, all this time later, I think blogging has made me a much better writer. That is one happy side effect of keeping the blog going, which I intend to do as long as I continue to enjoy it. There are my motives, such as they are. Thanks for your long and thoughtful comment!

Kim, I absolutely LOVE that darling Susan Branch and have been reading her blog since she started it - I even comment there from time to time, with her other legions of fans. She is charming both in print and on her blog, and I actually have a bound copy of her old Willard newsletters sitting next to me on the table right now. She spreads happiness! Can't wait for her new book to come out...

Thank you Dan, they do become tiresome, don't they - I enjoy reading many blogs just for pure entertainment and for their style - I mean really, I'm just looking for something decent to read, all the time! - but when I am reading something that, over time, is too concerned with the surface of things, and nothing deeper, well, it's like dining on nothing but sweets. Inherently unsatisfying. (Turkish Delight, if you are a Narnia fan.)

Life is too short not to wear your heart on your sleeve, that's my motto. Or, one of them.
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