I am sitting at a cafe on a lovely tree-lined strip of Calle El Conde in Santo Domingo’s Zona Colonial, reading, sipping chilled red wine, and writing this post in a notebook. I brought two small books with me to the Dominican Republic — books assigned during my MFA program, in my semester with Diana Hume George: Dorothy Allison’s Two or Three Things I Know For Sure and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones.
The latter has stuck with me, much like Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird; I remember bits of writing advice here and there — just write or lose control — but I can’t recall the specifics. There’s just the overall sense that there’s magic here, in these pages, which I think describes my writing process well. Rare spurts of automatic writing and freedom from the self. I read Goldberg’s words just now and caught myself thinking AHA! in a moment of clarity: when thinker and writer are one, and all is good.
Early on, she writes:
Don’t identify too strongly with your work. Stay fluid behind these black-and-white words. They are not you. They were a great moment going through you.
I smiled as I read this passage because I’d highlighted these lines years ago. It’s not surprising to be drawn to the same ideas again; as an often blocked writer, I relearn these practices over and over, constantly battling the inner voice and editor in me that says I’m not good enough or relevant or have anything important to say.
After reading Frank Chimero’s thoughts on digital homesteading, I’ve been thinking more about evolving as a writer online, and figuring out where my writing lives — and where I live. I recently pruned some of the weeds of my internet to define its spaces and levels. I removed a number of connections on LinkedIn, for instance, so it better reflected my work network, even deleting close friends because we’d never actually collaborated professionally in some form. I also unfriended 200 or so people on Facebook — generally people who aren’t family members, close friends, or not in my primary or immediate network, simply to help cut the noise and try to get Facebook back to a state that feels comfortable and makes sense: a house party of familiar faces, rather than a public space, which can be awkward and random.
So, I’d like to cull and control the various streams of my internet; I know I can only do so much, but I realize it’s my space — an extension of my world, and a large part of my life. So why not? But I think loosening up when it comes to writing, and what I publish here, is important. Allowing myself to let go, to show (what Goldberg calls) these moments of me, and to not get attached to certain pieces of writing. I’ve been wondering what to do with this blog, and I’m leaning toward creating a static front page, pointing to category collections and posts I’m proud of — and moving away from the blog format completely. Preserving the best moments of me, with my posts acting like exhibits in a museum.
A timelessness on a space I call my own.
But this is the opposite of what Goldberg encourages us to do, isn’t it?
So there’s a balance to strike: having just the right amount of noise, randomness, and fragmentation in my internet — one that allows the stream to flow, and also includes my own ever-evolving narrative.
The static front page defies this.
There needs to be a way to create the ideal online home: one in which I feel comfortable, but also truly reflects me, flaws and changes and all. I’m not sure what or where that is — maybe it’s Writing Through the Fog, but maybe it’s not.