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Writer arrogance? - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Writer arrogance?
My grandmother's third husband, who had lost his first wife several years before he met my grandmother, said that he'd buried (or maybe burned) her diaries unread. A few people I've met here at LJ have fully friends-locked journals. I've heard people say that they scribble things in notebooks, that they never mean for anyone else to see.

I can accept this intellectually. Honest, I can. I sort of get it sometimes--I've locked things that I don't necessarily want very specific people to stumble across. And I've even used the private entry function for things I've left only half-finished.

But most of the time, my instinctive reaction--the one that's the root of the way my brain works--is total puzzlement. What's the point of writing something if you're not fully expecting it to be read and, in one way or another, enjoyed?

In non-writing life, I'm more or less unassuming. Harry-like (and Remus-like), I will tend to assume that if I'm not specifically invited to a thing, I'm probably not wanted there. Though I've gotten marginally more sociable since I started meeting people online and discovering that my grandmother was right all along--most people, in fact are pretty nice and respond to niceness in return, a notion I fiercely rejected for many years--in fact my sociability is often pretty forced, and happens only in very specific circumstances. I do not assume that anyone is just dying to be in my august presence (and tend to think said presence is actively avoided now and then).

But when I write...

Oh, man, I'm horrified at my own levels of presumptuousness sometimes. I mean, yes, I recognize that I have a talent for stringing words together (which is of course a big no-no... not only is it immodest, it's also a big ol' gauntlet thrown down to say, "Yeah? You think you have talent, writer-girl? PROVE IT! AND KEEP PROVING IT UNTIL YOUR FINGERS FALL OFF!"). But the thought that people are going to be interested in these things I write, that they'll want to read them...

How arrogant can you get?

And yet, while it occurs to me that something nonfictional like this might get no more than a shrug, it very rarely occurs to me to lock such a post. If it doesn't find readers, oops. But it's still a communication--what I write is meant to be read. Because hey, I'm writing it, right? Surely, someone will read it.

Humongous bighead? Yup. Guilty. Superplusguilty. I put "The Doll Army" up (with a link to liebchen127's translation, since much of my family can read German) on my family's locked page, and I'm busily pouting because no one has responded to it. (Or, I suspect, read it, as they would have noticed a family name used for Lily's friend on the first page if they had.) Yes, pouting. Playing major drama queen. Slapping myself on the forehead and rolling my eyes at myself, but totally unable to simply not pout.

I think this is something that's true across the board with artists of all stripes, though. How big a head do you need to do this--to make the arrogant assumption that not only do you have talent, but you have insights that might be of interest to other people?

Oh, well. I'm mostly continuing my self-slaparound about my extended pout session.
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delleve From: delleve Date: August 2nd, 2004 08:31 am (UTC) (Link)
"What's the point of writing something if you're not fully expecting it to be read and, in one way or another, enjoyed?"

Well, that's completely dependant on what it is. Some people use journals as something theraputic, where they can rant, rave, bash, whatever to their heart's content and get information off their chests. Therefore then a person will use a locked journal entry on it. I know that I wouldn't want someone reading my psychotic ramblings, those I keep in my private journal. ;o)

Personally, I think the majority of people will look at what they've just typed in the entry box and think, "Do I really want people reading this? I mean, it's my private thoughts. Would people even want to read this in the first place? Meh, what's the point. *deletes/locks*"
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 2nd, 2004 08:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, like I said--I totally understand it intellectually. But on an emotional level... nope. Total puzzlement. There are things I wouldn't write at all, but very few things I'd write and then not post.
buongiornodaisy From: buongiornodaisy Date: August 2nd, 2004 08:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Meh, I know what you're talking about. I'm not sure if it's arrogance or insecurity. It might be both. You post these entries unlocked because you both think people will read them and because you hope you've written something interesting. And when no one comes along to pat you on the back for writing a deep entry about sock puppets, then you pout. At least it's that way for me. ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 2nd, 2004 08:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Glad I'm not the only one. :)

And yes, insecurity's part of it--the part that pouts at the lack of response on the fam-page.
spellingwitch From: spellingwitch Date: August 2nd, 2004 08:37 am (UTC) (Link)
What's the point of writing something if you're not fully expecting it to be read and, in one way or another, enjoyed?

Catharsis, exploring one's own thoughts...writing things down is a very powerful act. Thoughts are transient, wispy things that are made concrete and more "real" by writing them down. For example a scathing letter to someone simply for the purpose of purging the angry feelings so you can think more clearly (never meant to be sent to the person).

I think it depends on the degree of personal attachment to the thing written down. A lot of people can't be uninhibited unless they know the thing will never be read by anyone else. But it can still serve a purpose for the person doing the writing.
dreagoddess From: dreagoddess Date: August 2nd, 2004 09:36 am (UTC) (Link)
The only things I lock are references to work I'd rather not be floating around the internet in general. (A general search for my office name leading to my fanfic could prove a little embarassing in my profession. ;)) I have a girls lock for discussing TMI stuff, a con lock for posting detailed addresses and itineraries for cons I'm organizing I'd rather not have floating around, and the Kore lock for when persephone_kore and I are writing together. Other than that...*shakes head* I don't understand writing something for NO ONE to see. Those things live in my head, because they're the only safe place for it. If I'm writing it, it's going out for the world to see. The world may not like it, but oh well. I don't like the world either sometimes. ;)
kelleypen From: kelleypen Date: August 2nd, 2004 09:37 am (UTC) (Link)
I've done a lot of therapuetic writing that I don't want anyone to ever read. I still had to write it in order to heal.
ashtur From: ashtur Date: August 2nd, 2004 09:48 am (UTC) (Link)
It depends on what I'm trying to accomplish. I do a fair amount of "friendslocked" for a few reasons. (I rarely do fully private... unless I think better of something I said, afraid it would cause more trouble than it's worth).

By and large, I tend to be fairly open with friending (and returning the favor to people who friend me). When it comes to fandom related stuff, I just mostly do it so that I don't get dragged into the sorts of meaningless kerfluffles that Wahlee found herself in. I don't mind saying things, nor do I mind people seeing them, but I do mind having total strangers drop in, drag me off to "fandom_wank" and gibberish like that. I like my low profile.

Otherwise, I have a specific filter I use for some very personal things... when I'm a bit depressed and need to vent or something... in that case it's being used cathartically... (and believe me, y'all don't wanna know about my frustration with myself concerning my inability to connect with people).
readerravenclaw From: readerravenclaw Date: August 2nd, 2004 12:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Anything I post on Livejournal is public, and of necessity, my journals don't contain any overly private thoughts (I don't trust my little siblings to refrain from reading the journals if they come across them) but I can definitely understand why someone might write in a journal and want it to be completely private. If I could, I would make my journals completely private as well. Why do I write in them, then? For myself. Perhaps it's because I'm still quite young, and began writing in journals when I was still in elementary school, but one of my prime motivators has always been to have a record of my years to look back on in the future. I have a very poor recall of the general events of my life - just to use one example, I cannot remember the name of a single teacher I had before seventh grade, and I am only 19. However, when I read my journal, it does not only tell me what has happened to me in my life, it nearly always re-awakens the actual memory of the event. I suppose you might say that I use my journals as external memory storage. :) If I knew some way of keeping my thoughts completely private, I would like to do the same thing with my emotions and thoughts as I do with events, but I only discovered livejournal fairly recently, and I don't feel comfortable posting completely private thoughts even in a locked post that no one but myself would be able to read. If it's on the Internet, it seems to me that it's not completely private.

Anyway, enough rambling - but I figured I'd add another reason why people might want to write things down that no one else will ever read - for their own memories.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 2nd, 2004 12:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, like I said in the post, I have an intellectual understanding of it; it just doesn't make sense to me on that irrational, emotional level. No amount of arguing is going to convince that little bit of me that someone keeping a diary isn't at the very least keeping it for her great-great granddaughter to read someday.

I tried keeping a diary when I was a teenager (imagining a grandchild of one variety or another, and thinking what I might want to ask my grandmother--or Grandma Great--when she was my age), but my life bored me, so it was mostly rambling essays, poetry, and stories, and I kept thinking, "Why am I writing this stuff down and not showing it to anyone? That's silly!" Worse, it trapped me in a feedback loop--since there was no one to say, "Um, it could be a lot worse," I managed to convince myself that my problems were of great, earthshaking importance. I did a lot better when I switched to to writing fiction and plays, which people read and saw.
From: prettypuddle Date: August 2nd, 2004 02:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not even sure I can understand it intellectually. Any posts I make are either 100% private or 100% public. No friends locking and no filtering. I have private posts for reminders and for half-finished ideas, and everything else goes public. With the exception of a couple of RL friends, I don't know anyone on my friends list well enough to judge when inclusion and exclusion would be appropriate, so I'm not really sure why I should bother.

Personally, I view public posts the same way I view books in a public library. Just because they are there, for anyone and everyone to read, does not mean that they will be. I am sure, more often than not, a person will just wander past anything not to their interest. As for friends locking - argh! That I would find arrogant. "Hey, friends-list. Here's something you might like." No, I couldn't do that. As I said... I don't know my f-list.

My motivation for keeping posts public is not arrogance but selfishness. Generally speaking, I'm pretty pessimistic. I assume that what I have to say is not of much interest and anything I create is my best but still sub-standard. Yet I go ahead and post such things anyway, because it's my bloody journal!

(Not to say I don't scowl and stomp when I don't get any comments. I do... very much so ;)
purplerebecca From: purplerebecca Date: August 2nd, 2004 10:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know I write to be read, especially on as public a place as the internet.

I even expect my private handwritten journals to be read by my children sometime far in the future. And I write for me to read in future years. :)
liebchen127 From: liebchen127 Date: August 3rd, 2004 12:47 am (UTC) (Link)
When I was a kid (and a teenager), I used to read my diary to my cousin (which was my best friend at that time). So I suppose I want to be read, when I write something.

"I put "The Doll Army" up (with a link to liebchen127's translation, since much of my family can read German) on my family's locked page, and I'm busily pouting because no one has responded to it."

--> you put a link to my translation? Well, that is certainly something for MY humongous big head :))) I am really honoured! Thank you.

--> And as far as your familiy is concerned, I would pout in that case, too!!!!!!!!! But I think, most families are like that, mine certainly is (but we like each other nontheless). As the German saying goes: "Der Prophet im eigenen Land gilt nichts." Meaning: You can be an expert for something, but in your own family that doesn't count, because you still are the little one (or in this way).
ladyelaine From: ladyelaine Date: August 3rd, 2004 04:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I have my comment function blocked so that only people on my friends list can comment. This is because a few months ago, when Passion of the Christ was coming out, I was getting Spammed For Jesus. No, thanks. The furor over the movie hasn't entirely died down yet, so I'm not quite comfortable unlocking my comment function yet.

I do use my friends lock periodically, when I'm talking about semi-private stuff which I feel comfortable saying only to folks I "know" to some extent; and I have custom locks with groups of folks simply because some of these folks I "know" better than others. (For instance, when I was going out of town, I said so in a custom f-locked post--don't really want the world at large knowing that my house will be empty for several days.)

The only time I use my full private function is when I'm using my lj for html coding, and am posting stories in there that a) I've posted before, or b) aren't actually mine and I don't feel like explaining that I'm coding them. (And I delete them after coding and copying, anyway.) I don't use my lj for completely private journaling posts--that, to me, defeats the purpose of lj community and communication.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 3rd, 2004 08:46 am (UTC) (Link)
"What's the point of writing something if you're not fully expecting it to be read and, in one way or another, enjoyed?"

Definitely. There are a lot of good writers who claim that they only do it for themselves. Feedback is all well and good but that's only the icing on the cake. That I find hard to believe. Really. If you're only writing for yourself, why do post on the Internet? Or try to get published? Why don't you just leave your stories in manila journals and read it to yourself in a dark cupboard?
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