Fresca, left, contemplating the writer's life, in front of the Dante Bookstore in Palermo, Sicily, April 2007. Photo by bink.
The sign in the window"Libri, Libri. Tutta un'altra storia" means, "Books, Books," and "that's another story altogether."
After I had a blogging anxiety attack over dinner the other night with Donna, she went and translated for me most of an entry [separate post, below] about blogging stress, from one of the most-read blogs in France, Embruns, by Laurent Gloaguen, alias “le capitaine.” (Captains, captains, everywhere).
My recent meltdown about blogging came mostly from a simple biological source, turns out. I'd been getting jumpier and jumpier about everything over the past couple weeks. I finally decided to cut out coffee one morning, and by the afternoon I felt calm again. Calm, with a crushing headache.
I realized that when I blog I always have something to sip next to me. Since I'd had a run of intense blogging, I was sipping on coffee for far longer than usual every day.
M. Gloaguen is right: blogging on herbal tea is less stressful. (Right now I'm drinking lime fizzy water with a shot of Torino pomegranate syrup).
But noncaffeinated drinks are not enough to cut out all blogging worries, not for me, anyway.
I don't suffer from the stress of fame like Gloaguen does, but the exposure of blogging can still be tough. On my blog of almost four years ago, I got some hateful comments, which freaked me out. I also discovered that a former boyfriend was lurking, which really creeped me out. Both of these things were among the reasons I eventually shut down that blog, and didn't blog for two years.
When I started GuGeo last October, I was better emotionally prepared, all round. Luckily I haven't had any nasty comments at all. But if/when I do, I think (I think) they wouldn't throw me as much. And as long as I don't know who's lurking, I'm going to assume no one is.
If readers don't want to enter into a conversation of some sort (and I wish more would want to), then, unlike some bloggers, I don't even want to know who all's reading, or how many are--it just makes me nervous. Anonymity, even the illusion of anonymity, is comforting.
And then there's the opposite of nasty comments: silence. (Naturally, Gloaguen doesn't mention this, as the stress of trying to decipher silence is not one of his problems.) Why do some posts elicit several comments and others none?
I don't know, but I've learned that silence isn't a good indicator of whether or not a post is interesting, or even popular. Sometimes I hear later--in person or on e-mail--that people liked something I wrote, they just didn't want to comment for whatever reason. Really, blogging is often an act of faith, in the dark.
So, given the stress, why blog?
Like the answer to the question, Why do women write slash? I believe people write because at root it's fun, surely, or at least somehow pleasureable, not because bloggers are deviant or alienated--or not more than the general populace anyway. (Maybe less, because we have an outlet? Naw, probably not.)
"It's fun" might seem like a cop-out answer, but actually I mean it seriously.
My first semester in college, a botany teacher assigned us to go home and stand naked in front of a mirror and ask ourselves about each body part, "How might the process of evolution have selected this feature? What advantage could it offer?" ("Fun" is not an answer to be ruled out here.)
It's interesting to ask ourselves that about our behavior too.
Fun is not a small motivator for humans. It must serve some purpose, like the fun play of puppies (puppies!) helps them establish social hierarchy, hunting skills, etc.
In the blogging brain, I believe, fun helps override the stress of blogging.
And blogging is evolutionarily advantageous to a species that relies on communications to survive.
Since human evolution has gone down the soft-skinned, need-others-to-survive road, not the sharp-teethed, happier-on-my-own road, communication is an important adaptation. Writing is a fairly recent adaptation of communication. And blogging of writing.
Could it be, natural selection will favor bloggers?
Hmmm...maybe not as individuals (you can't share genetic material on the Internet, not yet); but some scientists think that human behavior doesn't always favor an individual's genetic continuation but favors instead the survival of the group. For instance, in the case of the willingness of individuals to sacrifice their life for others--obviously an individual who does this will cut short their ability to pass along their genetic material. But they increase their group's chances of survival.
And it occurs to me that their life "material" is passed along not biologically but in story.
Bloggers are part of that evolutionary branch that passes along the story.
Well, I have no idea if my musings on evolution have any bearing whatsoever on reality, but I had fun making them up. And blogging them. But it's not inconceivable that I will wake up at 3 a.m. all stressed out about how deeply uninformed I am about science and evolution and all that.
And the solution to that stress?
Blog more! Keep piling on the posts!
No one reads the old ones.