Monday, October 7, 2013

On Writing and Narcissism

     When I began this blog in September 2010 I was looking for a creative outlet that could be semi-public and therefore feel more private because if anybody could read it, it wouldn't feel like anybody actually did. So in a way, I was writing for myself, and hoping somebody else would like what I was making. I'm not sure if that makes sense.

     An early piece of feedback I got from a friend I shared the blog with back then (in September 2010) has been in my mind lately. He wrote to me, "Some people consider blogging a narcissistic endeavor, but after reading several of your posts I can safely say that such is not the case, and that I for one have personally benefitted from your choice to pursue such endeavors. Keep up the good show!"

     Now I think he was wrong. True, many of my posts have been about other people, but if I wanted to I could have just shared those feelings with the people they were meant for. Instead I put them on the internet.
     This blog is full of self-reflections from the last few years of my life: finishing university, figuring out where my life was going, moving away, starting a career. Is there a difference between self-reflection and narcissism?
     I think so. Being self-reflective is a form of introspection, it happens within oneself. Narcissism is self-love but somehow it implies craving love/attention from other people, so it's not entirely introspective. Or at least that's how I'm defining it for the purpose of this post.

      By those definitions, I think all writing is self-reflective but not necessarily narcissistic. However, writing in a potentially public space is probably both.

     Another part of that comment that I didn't include was, "your blog name/picture is perfect." The header picture at the time was:

a photo of me taking a photo of myself, as reflected by my own hidden eyes. So...obviously it was intentionally self-reflective from the beginning, but is it narcissistic?

     I know that other people have benefitted from my blogging endeavors. I know sharing the posts and songs I've written about other people has made them feel special and many of the comments I've gotten on posts like that have let me know that I've touched some hearts. But if narcissism implies wanting approval from others, aren't those posts the most narcissistic of them all?

And is that so bad if it's true?

     In 2010 I wanted to make a blog because a physical journal can't link to songs and websites, can't insert pictures easily, can't embed videos. I chose this format on purpose based on what I wanted creatively at the time and I'm happy I have this scrapbook from this transitional time in my life.
But I think maybe my blog has become too many photos of me showing off clothes, or singing crappy acoustic covers. It's getting me down. Just....too much of my own face/body on here.
Lately I've been feeling drained creatively and I blame too many screens.

Sometimes I just need to put ink on paper, pluck strings with my fingers, feel leaves crunch under my feet, talk to people face to face.

Sometimes I need a break.

So that's why I haven't posted for a while.

     I'm not sure if my friend was wrong all along, and this blog was always narcissistic, or if it's more narcissistic than it was when it first began three years ago, or it it never has been and still isn't.
But I need to stop caring about that.
I write this blog for myself, never knowing who will read it or if anybody will.

This is not a dialogue, this is not a discussion, this is a journal.
I'll confess, in the beginning I wanted it to be more than that, but I need to change my perspective.

So instead of dwelling on that comment from three years ago and thinking, "Oh no, I've sold out, I've become an internet narcissist!" I just need to let it go.

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