Thursday, April 9, 2009

Write one another.

Deanna writes in her blog post State of the Blog about her search for the right place, the right community to write to and with, someplace where her writing will "strike a chord." For her that place is no longer primarily her blog of three-plus years.

This is an expanded version of the comment I wrote to her in reply:

Your musings definitely struck a chord with me, Deanna. You know I'm always interested to read writers writing about writing. Why do we do it? In what form? Who are we writing to, anyway? And do they care?

Unlike you, I’m only early on into my second year of blogging, so I’m not tired of it, or not usually; but I do go through down times when it feels stupid and worthless. Like you, plenty times I’ve been off-kilter and ambivalent about it.
I remember an old blogging pal told me that at those times I should at least post links to New York Times articles I like. He’s blogged every day for years and sees it somewhat like a spiritual practice, like meditation, something you do no matter how you feel or what response you get.

Mud Bricks

But do I ever recognize that desire you write about for instant and frequent responses on posts! And for deep engagement. Sometimes I feel deflated when those things don’t come on a regular basis. But since they don’t, blogging, oddly enough, is helping me withdraw from craving the approval of others like a drug.

I think learning to accept that I won't get--and don't need--constant applause or even acknowledgement is related to how you learned through blogging that your words weren’t sought-after gold. Our words are maybe more like mud we can craft into some vessel or dwelling or lumpy ashtray. Doesn't always draw much comment, once we're out of grade school...

So we, I, keep going on faith. Faith that, well, here, I found this quote on Krista's blog Thinkery:
“You have a duty and an obligation to write, not because you have ‘the truth’ and must share it with others, but because we need to discover truths and we need all the help we can get, yours included. You write because you have an obligation to do so (123).”
-– James E. Porter, Audience and Rhetoric: An Archaeological Composition of the Discourse Community, Prentice Hall, 1992.

Your question isn’t whether to write, but where to, where does the need to make mud bricks meet a need for mud bricks? And how does the writer know, if no one tells us? Blogging, like all writing, can be lonely, and we need a little inspiration, a little incoming water to make mud, or else we dry up.

Sometimes a spring bubbles out of the ground at our feet.
Just yesterday I got an e-mail out of the blue from a friend of a friend, whom I don’t know–I’m glad I didn’t delete it as spam! She wrote to say that she’s an avid reader of my blog but not a commenter and wanted to let me know my blog has made her laugh by day and brought comfort on some bumpy nights.
This message was like a voice from heaven saying, Keep shaping that mud!
In whatever form, whatever place you find to work and that works for you.

I've enjoyed your blog, Deanna, and I hope you do keep it up, but I get that the writer needs to find the right audience, and they to find her. Which happens, eventually …if everybody’s lucky. It’s great you’ve found a couple good places where you can collaborate.

Foot Washing

I try to cultivate a sure and certain hope that in some way, telling our stories is one way of meeting–trying to meet–the mandate Jesus gave at the Passover meal we who follow the Western Christian calendar celebrate today, Maundy Thursday:
Love one another.

At the Passover feast, Jesus washed his friends' feet--and his betrayers'. (I posted a painting of this I love in the post below.)
I'm going to Mass tonight for my favorite service of the year. At my church, there are stations of hot water, towels, and little stools set up where everyone who wants to can participate in washing one another's feet. I kneel on the floor at your feet and wash them, then I take your place and some stranger washes mine.

To me, there's no better advertisement for liberation from self-importance than seeing a guy in a business suit kneeling at the feet of some teenager folded like a crane on his stool and then that teenager gently patting dry the papery feet of a fragile old woman, and so on through all possible forms of humanity, all with our feet of clay.
Writing can be like that.
You write to me and I'll write to you, and on the words go, down the line. Just gotta find the right line.


Krista Kennedy said...

Thank you for this post. It reminds me of the altruism of blogging, of never knowing where what you put out into the world may go. Often it surprises you.

I no longer celebrate Easter, but I still love Maundy Thursday. It's perhaps the most perfect day of Holy Week.

fresca said...

Thank you, Krista.
You get the blog-commenter's coveted Instant Response award--good for one free foot wash and dry! : )

deanna said...

Wow, this is an Easter week gift - a just-right touch on a lot of levels. As I commented back to you on my blog, the picture of mud bricks is appropriate. Writing is a gift and service to ourselves and one another. I've wished at times that I could do like the guy who posts every day. It hasn't been my "calling", but hanging around this 'verse continues to fit with all I'm learning.

I, too, have heard from people who never comment, but who've gained from reading my posts. What a humbling thing. It's part of that process of letting go the selfish need to see numbers beneath posts, or for that matter to receive smiles from people at church or whatever. Affirmation's good, and it will come...when needed. We never know when we'll provide the connection someone else really needs. Try too hard or too often, and it doesn't really work. So, yeah, good ponderings; I feel honored that you posted this.

momo said...

Wow, I have teared up reading this, fresca. Such a beautiful mental picture at the end, of people washing each other's feet, so tender. Thank you.

Darwi said...

Lovely post.
Thank you.

fresca said...

Deanna: What you say feels key:
"We never know when we'll provide the connection someone else really needs. Try too hard or too often, and it doesn't really work."

Sometimes I've thought I should try to write (or be!) something else, but basically I believe St. Francis de Sales is spot on:
"Be who you are," he wrote, "and be that perfectly well."
There's enough of a challenge for a lifetime! And it offers our best chance for genuine connection.

Thanks for commenting, Momo and Darwi!

momo said...

I came back to reread this post. I have spent the weekend wrestling with the demons of impatience and anger and fear, even as I'm feeling joy and gratitude. I don't know where these shadows come from, and I don't even know if I care any more. I"m tired and I just want to lay them down, and I know that the only way I can do so is if I humble myself and open myself to compassion. "liberation from self-importance" is resonating with me right now.

fresca said...

Momo: When I was younger the idea of liberation from ego seemed like a lie, a trick to get you to give up something good (I felt like that about "forgiveness" too)--but now I see it as liberation from demons, yes--from illusions of danger and lack and self-aggrandizement--and I long for it...