Monday, April 01, 2013
A Blog About Blogging
After some of the emails I've received over the past several weeks and months, I feel a need to write a blog about blogging. When I go back to the reason I started this blog, in fact further than that, back to when I considered starting a blog I remember thinking about what this would mean to my life. I recognize now, I had no idea. But back to how it began. My friend Belinda was the first person to talk to me about blogging. It seemed so exotic back then, I began following her blog and then reading other blogs about the disability experience. I found voices that, until then, I'm not really heard before, I found a community of bloggers that I wanted to be a part of ... and therefore decided to start my blog. I called the blog, 'Chewing the Fat' and, in those early days, I relied heavily on Belinda and her assistance. I dubbed her the 'blog princess' because she was a ready and able guide for me.
I wanted to write a blog about my experiences both as a newly disabled man as well as as a person who works in the 'disability industry.' As I was experiencing my world in an entirely different way, I wanted some way to document, for myself, and hopefully others, what that journey was like. I was surprised to find, that within a short period of time, I had readers, a community of commenters, and I felt that I was part of the growing disability presence on the web. In short I loved it. I had made the determination back then that I would blog for a year and then move on to other ways of expressing myself, other ways of being part of the community to which I now belonged. Obviously, that didn't happen, I'm still here, years later.
From the outset, from the absolute get-go, this blog was intentionally, a personal blog. I resisted all urges to make it anything more than that. I have been pressured, sometimes almost forcibly, to carry advertising or to promote various causes, or to write on every major disability news story. I write what I want to write, it's a daily blog so that means that I need to draw on day to day experiences. Most often I try to put these things in a disability context, most often, but not always. Sometimes I write about things that I'm thinking or feeling, sometimes I write about things from my past - a past wherein I was different but not disabled, sometimes I write about who I am as a gay person, or as a person of faith, or as someone who likes pie. It's a personal blog after all.
However, it seems that there are those who relate to me, not as a person, but as an entity, like I've stopped being 'Dave Hingsburger - the person' and become 'Dave Hingsburger - the commodity.' That's not expressed well, I know, but I don't know how else to say it. For those who see me more as an employee of the giant disability movement, I am held to extremely high standards and there are proscriptions put on what i should and should not write about. I am at the point that I grit my teeth if I'm going to write a post with gay content, I near get the vapours when I feel called to write about faith issues, I know, without failing that when I do those things I will get letters telling me that what I've written is 'inappropriate for a public blog.' I will get advice that sounds threatening, that I will lose my readership, that am endangering my reputation, that 'people don't come to this blog for that kind of thing.' Sometimes those letters are a bit frightening because of the intensity of the opinion. I am blasted for writing about faith by those who don't have faith, I am exhorted to leave my sexuality out of it by those who do.
And yet, this has always been, intentionally, a personal blog, a personal journal. I share the pages of that journal for those who wish to read. I don't charge a subscription fee, I allow my blog posts to be published and republished in newsletters or on other blog pages, even sometimes in journals and newspapers - without charge or without financial gain of any kind. I don't ask for donations, I don't have a wish list of gifts that people can send me (although I have received, on occasion cards and, maybe twice, small gifts from readers - lovely things that arrive out of the blue), I don't take any kind of cut from anyone. I wanted this to simply be mine and simply be a place where I can be who I am and write what I want.
It is interesting that those who write me don't often comment on various blogs, their letters always seem to presume a relationship with me that they do not have, that they are writing me because they are concerned about me and want to be a guide for me, that they are expressing concerns that my voice will be muted. I write every person back, I try to be respectful in my tone and in the content. I let them know that my voice comes from me, all of me, not part of me. That my history as a gay person and my experiences of discrimination and of oppression informs my opinions and world view more than anything else in my life. That my faith, the comfort I receive from those moments of silence and communion, give me the space to both reflect on my life and to challenge my life. Faith, sought only for confirmation, to me, is suspect, faith that challenges assumptions and demands growth, however, is valuable. To me, these things matter, so as someone writing a personal blog, they will both be here.
I have received these emails occasionally over the years. In the last year or so, they have become tiresomely frequent. I am always taken aback by the anger, and sometimes almost hatred, that lurks behind them. I am writing this now because it was only a few hours ago that I recognized that what was happening was a kind of bullying that I find unacceptable. When I was in high school I was bullied because I wasn't quite what people thought I should be. Now, again, I am being bullied because I'm not quite who people think I should be. It wasn't acceptable then, and it's not acceptable now.
A few weeks ago, I found myself starting to freeze when I came to writing a blog. I was beginning to fear what would result if I wrote about this or that, if I expressed myself honestly. I had things I wanted to say but I found myself editing myself even before writing a single word. Suddenly I was writing for the wrong reasons, I was writing for a 'readership with expectatioins' rather than writing a personal journal and inviting people to read if they so choose. For the most part I think I've managed to write what I've wanted to write, but there was a kind of dread in pushing the 'publish' button.
The point of today's blog is to remind you all, and I know that I've got some of the best and most supportive readers that a blogger could want, that this is a personal blog. I value your opinions on what I write, I find that my comment section is often more interesting that what I write here on the blog itself. I value you all. I want to get back to valuing myself and my life and my voice. I'm going to attempt to push aside the fears that fill me when I sit down to write something here. I don't think that you'll notice much of a difference in content, but I want to experience a difference in writing. I want it to be a joyous, or a thoughtful, experience - not one that frightens me.
I apologize for writing a long blog about blogging ... all the experts say not to do this ... but to hell with the experts, this is my blog about my life and therefore it's my choice.