Blogs Cure Cancer!
In her musing on Personal v. Political blogging, Laura from 11D links to Scribbling Woman's April '04 comments on how "Domestic Blogs" have been maligned and misunderstood. Laura also highlights Allison Kaplan Sommer's 7/22 observation that:
"..the very best blogs aren't the ones spouting political opinions regarding the news of the day 24/7; they are the ones that help us really get a feel for what it is like to be someone else, living a different life and opening ourselves to their experience."
I had two reactions to this statement. On the one hand, I felt reassured, just because my own blogging tendencies this summer have revealed how very much in-my-own-head I can be in this space. While I definitely enjoy rehashing news and politics with RT friends (or via other people's blogs), rarely do I find myself writing about those topics here. As a result of that tendency — and as a result of now having traveled more widely in the cacaphonous blogging universe — I've worried that YelloCello’s “small scale” stories have revealed me (to myself, even) as myopic or self-centered.
Although I’m a champion worrier, that particular worry didn’t stick.
I started this blog in a deep funk last fall, back when neither career nor life in our new city seemed to hold any promise. (And — it cannot be underestimated — back when I was still acclimating to the Rust Belt's sunless "days".) Blogging helped me feel like a writer again, in a period when it seemed all I did (or would ever do) was teach for peanuts and deal with the mundane details of getting settled into a new place. These were details that never seemed to register on my husband's Absent-Minded Professor’s radar, and so that (and the fact that I'm the trailing spouse) made it easy for me to regard his work as more important than my own. (Weirdly, even Adam’s honest inability to multitask starting looking like a virtue. Unlike me, he would never feel compelled to write 50 wedding-gift thank you notes before he could begin work on an article.) In short, I felt reduced. New-Ph.Delirious. Teetering on the brink of self-loathing, even. Writing about daily life turned out to be an antidote to self-destructive (and spouse-destructive!) thoughts. While internet communication still takes a lot of heat for threatening marriages, I can honestly say that it has improved mine, even as it restored hope for my own vocation.
Thanks to blogging (and Benedict, who introduced me to it), the pleasure of writing has returned in a way that I haven’t experienced it since grad school. That part of my professional life have become easier. It’s also become easier to wear the mantle of a professional academic now that, via the blog neighborhood, I know there are so many more human(e) academics out there. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, a connection is "born at the moment when one person says [or posts] to another, 'What?! You too! Thought I was the only one.'" So it has been with the discovery of myriad other folks out there who worry about getting enough work done, how they appear to their colleagues, and whether they belong in academia at all. Their own "small stories" have been hugely important to me.
But enough of my sentimental testimonials. I said I had two reactions to Allison Kaplan Sommer's praise of personal blogs. Will post on the second reaction tomorrow.