Friday, July 25, 2014

Poetry and blogging are totally different though

Hello blog. Why am I still here? For years I've blogged with consistency about nothing in particular, and for what? I don't think of this blog as a creative outlet; I think of it more like therapy, catharsis, my way of pursuing humility in community, as weird as that sounds. But this still reveals the reality that much of what I post here, in a public forum, is deeply personal. And in this respect it is similar to art: personal expression shared with the masses.

I've been thinking about this because of brief snatches of a conversation I overheard between my sister and my friend. She was talking about her fears of sharing her music with me, familiar as she is with my excellent taste (WINK).

"Oh, don't worry," my friend encouraged her, and offered by way of comparison, "Hayley's writing is just mediocre."

And I think what he meant was not so much that I don't say much that's worth saying, but I think he described the biggest pitfall of my blogging, namely, that it's not for anyone else. My writing is self-indulgent; I am decadent in the way I gratify myself through my writing. In more blunt terms, it's selfish. I write for me. My writing is mediocre because its goal is not constructive, I just write, and for what? If I felt any pressure or motivation to write for anyone else, I probably wouldn't write. 

Sure, I hope others are edified by the clumsy way I process reality, and I hope that my struggles to understand faith are an encouragement to others, but I would be dishonest if I claimed this was the reason I blog here. 

But maybe it should be? 

I've been considering this after being spectator to an unexpected conversation inside Grolier Poetry Book Shop between my friend and the artist manning the shop. They compared notes on who they liked, who they didn't like (they disagreed on Billy Collins), and who their "gateway" poets were. During the course of the conversation Elizabeth remarked, "I like poetry that whacks me, that shows me what it is I don't see." And speaking of some poet guy (so many names, guys, I was so out of my depth) Michael said, "I find he really thinks about the reader, like his work is really user-friendly." 

And as a novice when it comes to consuming poetry, I appreciate poets who are conscious of how their art will be experienced, who don't rest on intentions but make their work accessible to the pedestrian reader, who make it clear what they want their work to do for you. And I also like art that lends me awareness, that transfers experience from the artist to the observer, one showing another what each was previously unaware of. It's edifying, and I'm such a junkie for stuff that has that kind of purpose to it.

Apparently, according to this conversation I witnessed, there is a lot of poetry like this! Isn't it wonderful that there are poets like that out there? And not all art ought to be like that; art's variety is its impetus. But I marvel at the thoughtfulness of it, perhaps because my "work" is entirely the opposite of thoughtful, and it seems to me to be a very noble way of creating art, particularly poetry, a medium so well-suited to explaining unexplainable things.

When it comes to art, I instinctively know what I like. And like I said, this blog isn't art and it isn't meant to be anything close. I'm not on that level. It would be silly to aspire to it. But cannot the same spirit be applied here? The servanthood latent in that thoughtfulness and intentionality that artists bring to their crafts, can't I apply that to my self-indulgent bit o' blog? Can I consciously curate my little place on the internet that serves and edifies others even in my own self-expression? (And shouldn't that be the goal of all my words anyway?) 

Jesus shows me new way to follow Him all the time. And He is desirous for every part of me to be devoted to Him.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

For the record, your words here always encourage me.