From Private to Public- A Step Forward

As with everyone else in this course, I love to write.  It has been there for me my whole life as a way to express my opinion, be myself, and make sense of this crazy world around me.  Of course in each of our readings, I had an “aha!” moment, where I could totally relate to what was being discussed.  But the one article that resonated the most with me was “Why I Blog” by Andrew Sullivan.

In his article, Sullivan argues that blogging is a way to log events as they happened, without time to alter the story.  I have never blogged before, and this article gave me mixed feelings about the whole concept of blogging.  I love the idea that the truth comes out; I think we are more ourselves in our writing before all of the edits.  However, in something as open as a blog, anyone can comment on it.  Sullivan uses the word “brutal” to describe the readers who respond to some of his posts, but I don’t think I am ready for any “brutal” responses.

This fear of criticism and failure has already struck in our first few days of class.  Although the majority of writing I have done has been in a journal, I did a few different kinds of writing in high school.  I wrote in the school newspaper, participated in writing contests, even took a creative writing class.  At the high school level, I considered myself a great writer.  Flash forward to last Thursday in class when we were introducing ourselves to each other.  I hadn’t taken a class that involved writing in over a year and I was so excited to get back in to an old past time.  But as each person spoke, I realized that my year off meant that I was no longer the writer I used to be (or at least the one I thought I was).  Our class is filled with people who write in the Michigan Daily, people who write screenplays, people who are actually doing something more interesting with their writing than keeping it in an old journal sitting next to their bed.

This is the main reason “Why I Blog” stood out to me.  My favorite writing I have done is in a journal.  I keep the raw truth in there, recapping instances to the best of my ability.  I am not a writer for a newspaper.  I don’t have much experience thinking through my writing and editing it.  I write what I think when I think of it.  Maybe that’s why my weakness is organization.  Maybe that’s why I love reading blogs.  Maybe that’s why I’m so frightened about writing MY first blog post.

Although I agree that criticism is something that comes with the territory of blogging, I have to argue with Sullivan’s claim that a blogger’s fear of being “exposed, undone, [and] humiliated” doesn’t exist.  Maybe it doesn’t exist before the published work, but I am sure tonight after posting this, I will have the fear of humiliation.  See, unlike him, I’m not an experienced blogger and I am terrified of the criticism my writing may receive.  I am finally writing my thoughts somewhere other than the book next to my bed.  I am finally trying to make sense of the thoughts and sentences that come to mind.  I am finally taking a step toward being a writer.

A picture to depict my step forward as a writer.  I don't know the photographer, as it is a picture from pinterest, I found it in Terisa Clark's article: http://prize31.com/financial-stepping-stones-by-terisa-clark/
Courtesy of Terisa Clark’s article.

So here goes nothing.

My first blog post.

5 thoughts to “From Private to Public- A Step Forward”

  1. Kaitlynn,

    I don’t think I could be brutal if I tried. I loved your post wanted to thank you for writing what I have been thinking. I have never blogged before this first post either, and it’s nice knowing I have company. It seemed really scary to me just writing about what I was interested in, talking about myself and sharing personal things about my writing with others. However, reading your post made me more comfortable knowing someone else is on the same page.

    I’m really interested in (and super impressed by) your journaling habit and how you got started journaling. Do you write in a journal every day? I have always wanted to start but I have never gotten around to it. It sounds like it is something that has really helped you grow as a writer and I would love to be able to say that as well.

    I loved the metaphor you used about taking a step to become a writer, because that is also how I felt with my first blog post earlier today. However, I think you are more of a writer than most will ever be, because you regularly express your thoughts, feelings and experiences in something personal such as a journal. I believe that is what telling a story is all about and all of the reasons “Why I Write” apply.

    Thanks for such a well-written, honest and interesting post.

    1. Molly,
      I have kept some form of a journal since I was eight! It is definitely a difficult thing to keep on top of. Most of the time, I will have a solid three weeks of writing in it and then I take a few weeks off. Most of the time I write in it is when something significant is happening in my life. I think this is what I like the most about keeping a journal. I don’t have to feel pressured about writing in it all of the time, but the stuff I do write in it is so real and so personal. I can just open the cover of the book and see exactly how I felt the day I got accepted to U of M, flip a few pages and know how I felt after my best friend moved away. The journal keeps the feelings that I am afraid to talk to others about. It is something I suggest everybody try!

  2. Hey Kaitlynn,

    It’s great to see you again after living across the hall from you last year. I really liked how truthful you were with what you wrote. Although I write for The Daily, I can understand how scary it must have felt hearing how everyone around you has written more lately than you have.

    However, I think you’re selling yourself a little short in saying that.

    One of the best ways to improve writing is to practice, practice, practice. And, considering that you write every day in your journal, I think that you get a lot more practice than most of us do. Even though it doesn’t go through a lengthy revision process, you’re writing something. Plus, you’re probably writing really personal stuff. You’ve come to grips with writing down the innermost personal details of your life–even if you’re the only person reading it. That’s still an accomplishment. I’d find a lot of difficulty trying to write down my deepest and most personal thoughts and daily events. (I’d be too worried of judging myself later for what I wrote).

    Perhaps transitioning from private to public writing isn’t JUST a “step.” I think that a step implies that you’re moving to a higher degree of work from a smaller, less important degree. Maybe, it’s more of a transition. Instead of moving from private to public, you’re meshing the techniques and experiences of private and public together.

    1. Hey Michael!
      I can’t believe we’re in the same class! What a small world!
      I like the idea of thinking of this as a transition. You’re right- as everyone was talking about their experience, it made me feel like it wasn’t good enough. But I guess it’s true- I may not have the “professional” experience, but that doesn’t make me any less of a writer- I just might not have the proper technique down.
      I went with the idea of stepping stones because as I was thinking about this class, I realized that my writing, in a sense, was growing up. I had to make changes- I know a lot of the language I use in my journals wouldn’t exactly be appropriate in a setting such as this. But I am also trying to stay true to myself- that is probably why this post seems very disorganized and jumbled. I need to work on writing things in a way that is logical and makes sense… maybe that will be the next “transition” I make.

  3. Hey Kaitlynn,

    Let me start off by saying that you should in no way feel humiliated showing your work. Trust me, I had the same fear instilled in me last Thursday, and I actually write for a publication! I totally understand the feeling of being intimidated though; but I think that is one of the beautiful things about being a writer- we are all different and have different backgrounds. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to each other, rather just working together to become better writers (layman’s terms, it’s not a competition).

    I definitely agree with you about the reading. Sullivan struck a chord with me, because, like you, I also keep a journal. I’ve never really blogged before, but I’ve always wanted to give it a go; so it is encouraging to know that there is someone else in the class who has the same feelings that I do. And while it is terrifying to think about people being brutal, I think it’s kind of character building (sorry, that’s the athlete in me coming out).

    I just re-read your final paragraph for about the fifth time, and it gave me chills, again. I don’t know if you realized it, but you became the writer that Sullivan talks about in being honest and raw in this blog post. You have already taken that step and I honestly believe that with each post your confidence will grow. Just know that we are all on this journey together and some of us are feeling the exact same way!

    Thanks for sharing!
    -Louise

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