Recently, one of those randomly hot subjects in my life (you know – those subjects that just seem to pop up 8 times from as many separate sources in the span of 2 weeks, when they’d only been mentioned once during the six months prior?) is whether or not I should be Blawging. Perhaps EIW/Employer anxiety has fueled some of this. I hear stories about people not being hired, or being fired for having a personal blawg. Oddly, my first reaction is that I’d like to represent these people – not that I know anything about employment law.
(Complete aside: I am typing on the grilling patio, next to the garden where Sister School is working. I paused to kill two mosquitoes drifting by, locked in conjugal bliss. I feel good about this.)
Having written for a long while, I’m familiar with the projection that occurs around those who know writers. Everyone thinks – “Goodness, it must be *me* he’s writing about.” Poetry has its own particular pitfalls. The common assumption there is that anything in a poem must be a secret fetish of the author. Write a poem from the perspective of a pathological liar, based purely on research, bearing no close resemblance to anyone living or dead, and the reader assumes that this must *be* the poet. And on some level, one can say, it is. The experienced poet always informs the poems, but never unknowingly.
Perhaps, in the aside above, there was only one mosquito. Perhaps I had killed two, together, in a completely different setting four days ago. It might be My Own Private Idaho who is actually sorting the recyclables out back, while I could be in the kitchen, eating a lovely danish from the farmer’s market and sipping green tea. Or perhaps it’s coffee. I trust the reader gets the point – the details are eminently fudge able, the ancedote related for purpose – even if it only be the amusement of the speaker, or for the simple aesthetic flow of a posting. Were this a poem, the poet must know, of course, if mosquitoes mate in flight. Perhaps they do, perhaps they don’t. However, the tiny smear of blood across my palm – the one that looks like a brushed Chinese character, running stronger and deeper in the minute whirls and cross-hatchings of my skin, the one oddly punctuated by a perfectly preserved wing, the one which affords me opportunity to wonder whose blood this is, from which person or animal – that’s real enough. Even if it’s really on the hand of my neighbor’s daughter, who is here to help turn the composter, even if I haven’t seen her in 2 weeks.
Now, I don’t mean to suggest that the Blawg isn’t “true” to life, or that there isn’t a strong corollary to my actual lived life, to what I do. There is. But as AI and I spent some time discussing, there’s certainly a gap which can be exploited to shield the identities of those mentioned in the blawg.
I think that sometimes this shielding is unnecessary, save that there are a number of people who don’t realize how close the public is to their actions, even when they are acting in public, on the public record, as it were. Usually I try to offer some kind of shield – changed names, unspecified places and times, slightly altered statements.