The Words I Never Said

One of my favorite Lupe Fiasco songs is called “Words I Never Said”. He says, “you can’t take back the words you never said.” Reading Andrew Sullivan’s Why I Blog again reminds me of that line. A blogger lives on the hope that their courage to write honestly and with immediacy might outweigh the mistakes they will make by the nature of the medium. They push forward, letting other writers lie fault in the gaps in their work—in the words they never said. But I am still uncomfortable with this trade off.

It could be a confidence issue. After weeks of blogging, I am would not be comfortable with sharing my reactions to our assignments outside the community of our classroom. I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a personal blog in the past, but I couldn’t get past how narcissistic it felt. But ironically enough, on my favorite tabs a few of my favorite blogs that I check religiously because I love the writer’s insights and commentary on life. So I think it might be the case that I’m too insecure about my writing to leave it open for the criticism that Sullivan talked about.

I did a presentation in my Praise and Blame class about a study that found women apologize more than men because they find a wider range of actions blameworthy.  In my presentation, I focused on how that might effect power relations between men and women–if women are seen as the “morally worse” sex because they apologize more, and how a medium between men seeing too few actions as blameworthy and women seeing too many as blameworthy. I tried to make the presentation into a sample opinion column. Oh god, it was such a failure. It was SO DIFFICULT to “de-stuff”, make more superficial, and write in a light and interesting tone. It turned into an agonizing day long process of throwing out paper after paper.

In hopes to avoid that same experience, I am trying to reflect on Sullivan’s piece and find something to guide me for the re-purposing piece. Do I need to be more honest? Do I need to think less about what I am going to write and “write aloud” more? Do I need to let go of the worry about criticism? How do I break out of the form of the original piece and embrace a new form? Hopefully I can find some comfort in the fact that I can’t take back the words I never say.

 

4 thoughts to “The Words I Never Said”

  1. Narcissism- thinking someone cares about what you write because you wrote it.

    Confidence- thinking someone cares about what you write because you care and can persuade them care about it.

    Self-Reflective- thinking that only one person has to care about what you write, that person being you.

    These are just some mock-up definitions I thought of while reading your blog. I’m not sure how accurate they are but I do share your insecurities about the quality of my writing, and about writing about myself as being narcissistic. Still, I think when a writer opens up and goes beyond the superficial, his/her blog remains personal but gains the universal. It answers the “So What? question.

    As for your essay, I think that it is possible for you to take the “Ann Lamott” route. Write to get it out there and then try to shape what you’ve created. No need to consider criticism. Just let the ideas flow. In theory, you already have them from your original paper. Maybe you could make a list of the main ideas and then try to work from there. I don’t know. I’m having the exact opposite problem. I have to take a personal narrative and “STUFF” it with factual information for an op-ed piece. I think the ultimate problem is that re-purposing an argument is going in the reverse of what we are normally taught to do. We have to start with a finished product, filter it down to its core ideas and then convey those core ideas from a different perspective. As opposed to starting with a perspective, coming up with some core ideas, and then making a finished product. On the one hand, I think it’s a great opportunity to learn because it doesn’t allow us to go through the motions and forces us to consider the purpose of our writing. On the other, it would result in overflowing garbage cans if people still used type-writers.

  2. I would agree with you that there is an initial feeling of narcissism when one first enters blogging. It probably arises from the trait of egoism that George Orwell talked about in his Why I Write Essay. I assume this feeling also comes from the style in which a blog post is written. It is almost always the author’s commentary regarding a specific issue. I suppose it would be hard to keep your opinion out of your writing due to the rapid pace that blogs are produced. However, I would like to think that this is in fact the beauty of a blog. Readers go into the experience knowing that they are about to become solely immersed in the author’s opinion. I think Sullivan would argue that this single opinion sets the stage for the bigger argument and fosters an environment where other’s opinions are welcomed and embraced.

    I can also definitely relate to your struggles and feelings of anxiety. This assignment is going to push me completely out of my comfort zone, but I think that’s what it takes to truly expand one’s abilities as a writer. I agree with Julia, in that, Lamott’s piece would be something to keep in mind in this process. It’s probably worth holding onto those drafts that initially seem utterly worthless. But I think we can all agree that writing looks different after spending time away from it. Often, I find that even a couple of hours can clear my head and then allow me to objectively analyze what are the specific strengths and weaknesses of the written piece.

    1. What compelled me to comment on your blog this week was your title. It sounds as though it is from an ABC soap opera, something you’d see running on a lazy Tuesday, home sick from school. It is very enticing, and I wanted to know what you had to say.

      Before I interject my two cents about your internal battle of narcissim vs insecurity as the culprit for preventing you from blossoming as a blogger, I want to address your experience with refurbishing that presentation.

      I’m am slightly more concerned about our upcoming project after reading about your experience attempting a similar feat. In my blog post I revealed how I am unsure how my paper will turn out. I am looking to my peers to hopefully give me some helpful nudges in a direction that yields effective results, so I’d be interested in learning more of your travails with adapting your power relations project.

      Getting back to the point, I think you should not view blogging as narcissitic. That’s exactly what my thoughts were before entering this class, but Sullivan’s piece and doing some blogging of my own has shown me that it is a beneficial excersize for numerous reasons, including dexterity and agility with the greater discipline of writing as well as personal reflection and exploration. I would definitely read a blog of yours and not view you as an egotistical jerk. Heck I’m reading one right now.

  3. What a great title! I admire how you integrated that song into your analysis of Andrew Sullivan’s piece. I think the pressure bloggers are put under due to the nature of their art makes me revere them. Bloggers are under constant scrutiny for the words they say, and the words they never said. I can’t imagine the pressure they must feel to produce a prominent post.

    I have never attempted to re-purpose anything. Therefore, I know I’ll be faced with substantial difficulties when I sit down to produce this work. I don’t want to psych myself out though. I know I’ll probably have a horrendous first draft, but Skylar and Julia made astute references to Lamont because the knowledge I obtained from her piece will certainly help me through this process. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so how can one honestly expect to write a masterpiece in their first try? Skylar made a good point about taking a step back from your writing to help you engage with it work with more objectivity as well. I try to do that sometimes and I think it helps me produce a better-written work because I know I’ve already critiqued it myself.

    I am confident that you can make peace with the art of blogging. You can’t take back the words you never say, so just let go and let flow. Don’t worry about the critics, the way I see it, critics are only there to help you. If I am not faced with criticism for something that I say or do, I think I am doing something wrong.

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