I do indeed still exist.
I don’t have an exciting reason for the prolonged failures to update. I don’t have any clear, solid reason for it at all, honestly. That isn’t to say that I didn’t have murky and nebulous excuses. But, since this blog is for nothing if not for overanalyzing things, I might as well write about that very lack of writing.
While it’s not exactly as if that last post took the Internet by storm, it did indeed get read more than I’d expected. A lot more than I’d expected. I’d been content, and in fact outright impressed, by a maximum of eight whole viewers one day. After all, I knew I’d only sent the link to two or three people I knew, so that had to mean that at least one Actual Other Human Being had read something without having been pressured or obligated in any way, shape, or form! Astounding!
Then I went and blathered about the Right Reverend Jerkface, and bam – 139 views in a day.
Having never had a Proper Blog before, or even any shambling excuse for one, I tried to do it proper. Check back for comments. Reply to everyone. Read at least one thing from everyone who’d commented, comment on them if I could. Realize my comments were probably too long; fret about being long-winded and self-important. Realize other comments might be too short; fret about appearing terse. Watch as the comments died down. Go about my business. Wake up the next day.
And wonder what in all hell I should write.
It wasn’t a case of writer’s block. I had a bevy of things that seemed interesting. A few bits of new scientific awesomeness, particularly artistic videos, humorous news, personal ponderings. There were a few drafts that I began and just couldn’t finish, couldn’t flesh out. Other things that I just wanted to submit without commentary, but after what I’d hoped was a long and nuanced analysis of news and society and so forth — a post which (amazingly) made some people want to follow me — how could I just plonk down something so different? What if that wasn’t what they expected, or what they wanted?
I felt like I’d painted myself into a corner – that whatever I wrote would have to be socially-conscious SRS BSNS.
“Or what?” said some bold but quiet backend of brain.
And then the Justification Trainwreck occurred.
It went a little something like this:
“If I don’t write something that’s long and thoughtful, anyone who followed me for Thoughtful Things will be annoyed and feel bait-and-switched. But if I can’t think of something long and thoughtful, anyone who followed me with the expectation of being able to, y’know, read more actual words sometime would feel even more displeased – better something than nothing, right?
But, then again, that’s self-entitled as all hell — if I hold to that, then I could just start plonking down whatever half-cocked ninnyhammery I liked, claiming that anyone who didn’t like it could just unfollow and scram. And what kind of dick move would that be! No, no, I need to Know My Audience.
But I have people who like the science posts, and people who like the art posts, and people who like the personal posts, and people who like the social posts, and unless I were to personally conduct a sociological experiment and interpret the data through painting somehow, there’s no pleasing everyone.
But then how do I decide who to focus on? Who do I write for, who do I try to satisfy? But then again, doesn’t that make a work hollow, if its sole intent is to appeal to some arbitrary demographic? I hate to read that kind of writing, and I hate to write that kind of writing, so why would I think that anyone else would want to read that kind of writing from me — even if I WERE capable of having such specific appeal? However, don’t I basically have to choose between niche appeal and broad appeal? On the other hand, who am I to think that what I’m writing would actually satisfy anyone anyway! That’s awfully pretentious of me!
But then again, isn’t it better to be pretentious than to convince myself that the best course of action is to write only appealing pablum? And do I really think that I’m even in touch enough with society to be -capable- of writing appealing pablum? But if I’m not writing this for other people, then I’m only writing it for myself – in which case this shouldn’t be a public thing in the first place.
But then again, there’s a difference between tailoring writing for a specific and totally-constructed “type” of audience or “type” of reader and just making writing available for any and all audience or readers to enjoy. Moreover, it’s not like I even have a big sample size to begin with! If I change my writing now to appeal to my current readers somehow, then what kinds of audiences might I potentially be missing out on by not writing other things?
But then again, if I’m having this bad of Choice Paralysis after a hundred views and a handful of follows and comments, obviously I can’t even handle a wider audience anyway! It would be selfish to assume that made it okay to alienate current readers OR hypothetical readers – but then AGAIN, if I’m going to be fretful over whether I’m bothering or alienating someone no matter what I write, then shouldn’t I at least write about things I personally want to write about, because there’s no way to ever know if I’ve satisfied anyone but myself?
But THEN AGAIN, if I’m already presuming that I’ll fret over how others perceive what I write and fret about my writing’s objective merits, isn’t it the case that I will inherently never be satisfied by my own work anyway? And doesn’t that obligate me to instead do my best to serve someone other than myself, because trying – even in vain – to satisfy others is always more valuable than certainly satisfying myself? But where would that end, because if it’s a utilitarian argument, what if the writing that would please others most is the writing that would please me least?
BUT THEN AGAIN, do I even have any right to care about how pleased I am with my work, because I only deserve to be pleased if my work pleases others?
BUT THEN AGAIN, aren’t more powerful works often more discomfiting?
BUT THEN AGAIN, isn’t my work just amateur halfassed crap, not anything that’s even in the same room, building, or continent as Works Of Art?
BUT THEN AGAIN, if it’s crap and I have no business aspiring for better things, isn’t there no point at all, for me or for anyone, in pursuing it?
BUT THEN AGAIN, since writing is the only thing in my life at which I feel even remotely competent, if there’s no point in creating these writings, isn’t there no point in ANYTHING I do?
BUT THEN AGAIN, isn’t anything better than nothing, because no matter how horrible or vapid or pointless it is, it’s still some small creation spitting in the face of the void?
BUT THEN AGAIN, and this is perhaps the summation of the entire previous mess, AM I NOT JUST OVERTHINKING THIS, AND BESIDES, WHO THE HELL CARES?”
This, or variants of this, is what my brain does whenever I think about doing much of anything. Moreso when it comes to writing or other acts of creative whatnot that I think about sharing with others, of course. Writing is one of those few things that has always been important to me, even when I was at my nadir of self-esteem. But almost any major choice or change tangles up a similar Gordian knot.
But why? That’s the big question. The answer to it is something I’m always pursuing.
And, truth be told, I did have a big examination coda thing at the end of this. Trying to come up with some sort of answer. And it’s been dangling here, waiting for The Reasons, since the end of last month. Living up to everything it was trying to analyze.
The core of it, so far as I could find, is that I’m trying to seek justification. Sometimes I’m trying to control things that I can’t control, sometimes I’m trying to not do anything until I feel certain about the outcomes, sometimes I’m just trying to avoid making mistakes or looking stupid, but it all boils down to the idea that I want to convince myself that whatever I’m doing is okay.
I feel that this is still unfinished. That, even if and when I do post the bit I chopped out, the bit where I explore the process of those doubts and motivations (and failures of motivation,) it will still be unfinished. That, even if it were finished, it wouldn’t answer anything. Or help anything. Or matter.
But maybe that’s okay.
But then again…