One would think that after having spent the past 4-1/2 years on LiveJournal I wouldn’t have much trouble keeping up with a blog, but one would be wrong. Part of the problem is that I’ve never been much of a diarist; I’ve had several diaries/journals in my life, and none of them have lasted longer than a few weeks, if that long. Even the pocket diary I took with me as I backpacked around Europe the year after I graduated from college didn’t last more than a week. There’s just something about the concept of keeping a record of one’s thoughts, observations, experiences, etc., that has never clicked with my personality.
I also think that LiveJournal itself is part of the problem. It’s a social blogging site, and for me, it’s the “social” part that makes all the difference (on the other hand, MySpace and Facebook have never held any appeal for me). Even when I was just starting out and only had one of 2 people on my friends list (one of whom was my sister), the thought of having an audience appealed to me. In addition, being part of a fandom gave me venues for promoting my LJ, thereby potentially increasing the size of my audience.
I liked – still like – LJ for some of the same reasons that I enjoy writing: I like to be read. Knowing I have an audience is deeply gratifying. It feeds my ego, and, heaven knows, my ego can be ravenous (which, given my comment above about Facebook, makes this study rather interesting). At the same time, though, the lure of the audience, and my (semi-deluded, ego-driven) perception of its expectations of me, grew increasingly disruptive. I was never quite so hungry for attention that I’d friend dozens of people in the hope they’d friend me back so I’d have a huge friends list. After probably my first 6 months on LJ, I rarely proactively friended someone, mostly because my lack of self-confidence is even more powerful than my desire to entertain. At its biggest, my friends list never topped 250 people, and I’ve set an arbitrary cap on my current LJ at 50 so I don’t get overwhelmed with trying to keep up with all of them.
That audience, though, and the never-ending appetitite of my ego, encouraged me to act out in ways that embarrass me to contemplate. Getting the audience wasn’t enough; I had to keep its attention riveted on me. I’d get ridiculously jealous of people who (undeservingly, IMO) had huge friends lists or got lots of comments on their entries, or would get pissy whenever I thought someone wasn’t reading my entries anymore. Over time, I got more and more outrageous, all to feed the demands of my ego.
Here, there is no audience. Well, maybe an accidental passerby, but I’m not writing for anyone but myself. And… it feels weird, to be both performer and audience. I don’t know what to say. I know what I want to talk about – for example, the manuscript cataloguing project I’m working on, and my thesis research and how that and reading A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe has me taking a greater interest in the discipline of diplomatics, and the guy in my neighborhood who goes outside to play his fiddle on weekend nights when the weather is nice, and the book I started during NaNoWriMo 2004 (or was it 2005?) that I’d like to get back to writing but I’ve been horribly blocked on all creative writing for ages – but it feels strange to be writing about those things here because I already know about them in my own head. It’s as though I’d be talking to myself.
Maybe I ought to stop over-thinking things and just get over myself. If I did, then maybe I’d be able to get past this monstrous blockage in my creative writing.
But for now, it’s time to watch the Obama-McCain debate.