In Cognito

I read this, which made me a bit sad, because Emily’s blog is one of my favourites right now. I used to read and write a lot more creative non-fiction than I do now, and I hope at some point to be able to go back to it and to make as elegant a job of it as Emily does.

But Emily’s got a problem, and I can’t even drive my measly bit of traffic her way without compounding it – which is how to write without revealing too much of yourself.

And how much is too much? I go by the cringe-quotient, but depending on how ‘out in the world’ I’ve been that day, sometimes my cringe reflex is on a hair trigger and its much easier and safer not to write at all.

It is something I think fiction writers struggle with as much as bloggers. The writing persona/e or ‘style’, which might be another way of describing what we are pretending to be when we write ‘I’ is something I’ve been thinking about in terms of how writing creatively for a blog is different to writing in a diary, which I also do, and different again from writing stories, which I also do, and different even more from writing things that are apparently not fiction, but borrow some of fiction’s methods to tell their stories and yes, I do that a bit too.

I’ve been thinking about this, partly because I’m always thinking about it, and partly because I’m planning a workshop for beginner bloggers who are also writers later next month, and I’m wondering how to bring up these ideas in discussion without putting everyone off. I don’t think starting a discussion about twitterfeed with a quote from Thomas Wyatt would appeal.

I know I expose much more of myself in my fiction than I ever do here (this nasty piece of exposure notwithstanding). But I also work in an environment where it’s really important the borrowers don’t know much about my personal life. So there’s not much about my personal life on here, and what there is, I often make up…
(Gasp! All complainers can be directed to the title of this blog – up at the top where it has been for the last two + years). Maybe I’d blog a little bit more like Emily if I didn’t work where I do.

I don’t think it is about finding a voice, or a medium, a form or an audience – I think every successful piece of work is a fine fit of all of these things. So Emily’s problem might be a conundrum about what words are on the page, and which of these words belong to the facts of her real life and equally, how many people read them.

What do you think? Chime in if you’ve got an opinion.

I’ve been drafting this blog post for about two days and I can’t quite put my finger on a conclusion. I think I will one day. Probably on the back of an envelope somewhere, in scratchy writing no-one but me will read. 

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