Blog, blog, blog: thoughts on growing in public

To be honest, I had barely read a blog before I got ready to start blogging myself. I was perhaps a bit suspicious of the medium. It’s true that ever since I was a child, with my first Hello, Kitty journal, I could not keep a diary without imagining a future reader. In fairness to the vanity of my young self, the diaries I was most familiar with were those that had been published–Anne Frank, for example. In any case, the blog circumvents the necessity of pretending you are writing for reasons of personal growth, even as you become most aware of your desire to grow, personally. I have admired writers who are willing to grow in public. Michelle Tea is a wonderful example. She is prolific and talented and has written with a work ethic I envy and then gotten her work out to a growing public (via spoken word tours–the infamous Sister Spit–and publication) since she (and I) was quite young. This means that she’s gotten better, and broader, in front of that public. Yesterday in the car, Angie played a part of a podcast for me in which the speaker made an important distinction between the natural, healthy dissatisfaction a writer or creator feels towards the work he or she has done and contempt for that work. There is slippage between the two, and contempt does no good, since it casts doubt on the worthiness of everything you do or might do. Dissatisfaction, on the other hand, will push you to stretch, to grow. To try something different. (Although the boys were not interested in (their...

Live from Sonoma, It’s National Coming Out Evening

I am in my mother-in-law’s kitchen, typing on the computer, while my mother-in-law cooks dinner and Angie kisses the boys’ little feet. This sentence, I suppose, is what strikes fear in the hearts of the out-of-state Mormons who are flooding the supporters of Proposition 8 with funds–25 million dollars so far, to be exact. Somehow, my having a mother-in-law (cooking dinner) and a father-in-law (out hunting!) and a spouse (female and monitoring two boys opening kitchen cabinets) and two sons (exploring Grandpa and Nana’s house) shakes the very foundations of their marriages. All marriages. Except, I guess, my own. And it is National Coming Out Day. When I graduated from my M.F.A. program, Ian McKellen (Sir Ian to you) gave the commencement address. (Is that what it is called? Angie and my mother-in-law and I cannot quite agree.) Anyway, he had come out relatively recently, given his age (this was in the mid-nineties and he’s sixty-nine now. You do the math; this is a blog about writing). And he said, Come out, in every way that you can. And support your gay and lesbian family members so that they can come out. There I was, with my whole New York family–cousins of my father who, like my father, were born in the 1920s–and they were being extolled by a world-famous, brilliant actor to come out and to support me in coming out. It was splendid. If I was worth my salt as a blogger, I would find and scan the photograph of Sir Ian and me (and my partner at the time) on the steps of the School of...

Blogging on Blogging

This is a blog about the craft of writing, so it was bound to get meta one of these days. Writing about writing in a relatively new genre–the blog–and a genre that’s brand new for me, both as a writer and, more or less, as a reader, would sooner or later require some reflection on the form itself. So, it’s sooner. It’s tonight. I’ve read blogs by friends. Well, I had a first friend who blogged. She was the first of my friends to blog, that is, and also, she was probably my first friend. We met when I was 2.5. But anyway, she started writing a blog when she was traveling around the world, and so I would read it to keep up with her, and I kept reading it, even when she got back. I thought she wrote well and had interesting ideas about . . . whatever crossed her path. And that was the blog I read, until we stopped being friends. That story would probably be more engaging than my thoughts about blogs, but one of the lines one has to walk in writing a blog is, how much should be confessed? What should be left out altogether, what referenced obliquely, what detailed? I’m afraid this is going to be referenced obliquely for now. I haven’t looked–maybe my friend wrote about our falling out. I sort of doubt it, though. Recently, some acquaintances have fallen on hard times: their son is in the hospital with heart problems. I don’t know them well enough to know what’s going on any other way, so I read their...