I’ve always been a diary-keeper. Since I was fourteen, I’ve religiously kept a journal. On busy weeks it might just be one entry, on holiday I would write every night. I wrote about every detail of my life – from the boy I was crushing on, to how fat I was feeling, to what I wanted to be when I grew up…
Thirteen years later, and while I haven’t grown up, stopped crushing on boys, or occasionally feeling fat … I appear to have finally finished journalling. I kept a diary for eleven years. There are literally hundreds of them in a box in my attic – the ins and outs of my youth, documented in page after page of self-absorbed, angst-ridden teenage waffle. And then I began to write fiction properly … and I stopped writing about my own life.
I guess I just realised that I only need a certain amount of writing in my day-to-day life, and that these days that quota is used up by fiction writing … and now, between books, by blogging.
But the thing is, fiction writing isn’t like writing a journal. For reasons I have discussed in blog posts (see The 7 Sins of Fiction Writing, and Writing From The Heart) in my opinion, the best fiction is just that … fictional. If you let too much reality tinge the imaginative side of your work, you actually impede your own creativity.
So where should the true outlet for my need to vent be? Should I use my blog?
Now this is where I may well alienate a large amount of my readership … because I don’t believe that a blog should be an online journal!
Before you block my blogsite, and report me for an improper attitude towards blogging, bear with me.
I’m not saying blogs shouldn’t be about people. As you’ll have noticed, at least two of the blogs I’ve spoken about in my blog are about people – Mikalee Byerman’s blog about her life after divorce, and ‘The Becoming Year’ – a blog by Abigail about the year she had given herself to make major changes in her life.
What I’m saying is that autobiographical journal-like blogs work when you are detailing a specific area of your life.
Love lives, weight-loss, job issues … all can be interesting and helpful to readers, if sold as just that – a blog about my appalling love life, a blog about my attempts to lose 10 stone, a blog full of notes from my retard boss….
What I don’t agree with, is just keeping a journal online for all the world to see.
Because I don’t really understand why anyone would want to read it? And why you would want everyone to read it? Wasn’t that why the diaries we were given as children had crappy decorative locks on them?
I know, in the age of Facebook, that that might seem a rather short-sighted explanation, but Facebook isn’t a journal. It’s a carefully crafted and editted representation of a person. It’s the person as they want the outside world to see them. A journal is the person behind that shell. It is the inner-workings of someone’s mind … and there are too many of these delicate, and self-intrusive blogs on the net.
To be honest, I can’t work out exactly what it is which annoys me about them…
Is it narcissism? Is it that the writer thinks that he or she has such important inner musings that the whole world needs to know about her sex life, AND her weight issues, AND her shopping wish-list? I genuinely don’t think that even if the diary belonged to a famous person, I would want to know about her blackheads, and new fad diet, and how her Mum had pissed her off that morning!
Is it the writing purist in me? Who feels like writing that is made public should be at least to some degree crafted … no matter what the medium. (see The Author, The Journalist & The Blogger and Get it Write 🙂 )
Or is it just that I view the ‘blogosphere’ as a giant free magazine? And when I read a magazine or a newspaper, it’s normally the Opinions and the Editorials which I most enjoy reading. This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy reading about people, because these Comment sections of a newspaper are normally, by definition, the most heavily laced in personal opinion and experience. However, if I were to open a newspaper and read a stream of consciousness about how the editor or commentator was having a bit of a crappy day, didn’t get an writing done, had period pain and a massive craving for chocolate … then I doubt I would read that paper again.
And so … in my opinion at least … journalling DOES have some place in the blogosphere. But only within the confines which you yourself craft for your own blog. If you want to write about your crazy NSA sex life, by all means do so … just make that the focus of your blog, and apply as much care to that writing as you would anything else you distribute into the public eye.
And personal opinion and experience also matter … just keep them to topic, and try to make something interesting out of it, so the reader isn’t simply reading a litany of reasons as to why your day was pretty mediocre!