August 28th, 2009


Behold, the future is now

I've been grapplng with something for over a year now, and I think over the last 48 hours I've started to make headway with it.

This - my blog and what it is and what it means.

When I started blogging nearly ten years ago now, man I feel old, it was a way to make myself write something new every day. Back then I fancied myself as a writer. I even wrote a novel and a half. Turns out, actually, I don't think I'm a very good fiction writer. Actually, I suck as a fiction writer. Also there's some very very bad poetry in one of the unpacked boxed here somewhere. You know how I hate poetry? I think it's cause I read too much of my own crap.

I did turn out to be a writer though. I've written nonfiction as a freelancer - mostly scientific material. It turns out I have a knack for reading science and then writing it in everyday language - I like explaining things to people. In my day job, I read a lot of science, I critique it and then I write reports, memos and letters about what I think of what I've read. I make recommendations to decision makers. I've reviewed over at ASif (and will be again very soon).

And I write here. A lot.

And over time my readership of this blog grew. And then I got involved in small press. And my readership grew some more. And now people wander past here for all sorts of reasons. I talk about a lot of stuff here. And I do a lot of spruiking for Twelfth Planet Press here. I talk about politics, and pop culture and my feelings and my family and my friends and the TV I watch and things related to science fiction and things not related to science fiction ...

I write about very personal things here. And I write about very public things too. I try to write honestly because I think the most important thing a writer owes their reader is honesty. But honesty can be uncomfortable and the nature of a blog means that the reader can't choose whether they want to witness aspects of the honesty or not.

And that's the thing I've been grappling with for over a year now. Do I change the way I blog because elements of the audience have changed? And if I change, is that copping out? Am I allowing the reader to dictate the writing and if so, which readers will I value and which opinions will I weight more heavily in the decision making.

And over the last year I've changed some of the way I blog. I created twelfthplanet as a space that is only for Twelfth Planet Press and is attempting to cover all of the relevent notices and announcements for the press for readers who only want to access press related material. And I will attempt to do better at at least keeping that a bit more up to date - I am aware at the moment that most of that flist are on this flist and I don't want to double post to people's flists.

The other thing I changed was I flock more posts and I screen more of what I write. That's been really hard for me cause it still does feel like a cop out - and editing or censoring. It's why I don't immediately friend back people who friend me and I also now use filters. I grappled with that for a while. But I think there are some aspects of me that should no longer be publicly available for drive by readers - especially information that can be used against me. I hate that because one of the things that was important to me about blogging openly and honestly was about dispelling preconceptions and stereotypes - about people with mental illness, chronic disease, Jewish people, women, environmentalists, science fiction fans, engineers, readers, feminists. And it's still a balance I'm working on and may always be in flux.

What I realised though today is that if you met me in real life, I'm as honest in person as I am here - my face betrays what I'm thinking anyway. But I'm a person who can't keep her own secrets. I can keep yours well enough but not my own. And I kinda don't have a line with too much information - I'll answer pretty much any question and I'll ask just as many. But if we lived in the same place and we hung out, you'd get to know as much about me as you read here. Maybe it would take longer but that's the thing, this is the future and the timescales are shorter. Things happen at breakneck speed now - we don't have to spend 5 years arguing about an issue in the letters to the editor column at the back of a magazine. We can get that all done by lunch now.

What the internet, and blogging, gives me, which is what I realised, is the virtual experience of being at a con all day everyday (or if we all lived in one giant share house). The difference for me, when we all go to say a Natcon (and more so if the Natcon is Swancon - 5 days) is that it's all of you all in the one place at the one time (if the Natcon was some kind of bizarre crossover of interests totally unrelated to each other). I can have a conversation with someone and then get up, go down the hall and ask someone else a question or their opinion or whatever. I can do that online but it takes maybe an hour instead of 5 minutes. Twitter even offers you the experience of conversation in a bar - you yell something out into the void and sometimes you get an answer or a conversation and mostly you get ignored.

For most of my life, I've been the outsider, never really fitting in. And then I found all of you who get me or get parts of me. And this is me online, uploaded, the virtual version. This blog isn't an advert for something, it's not a notice or message board, it's not a marketing tool. It's just me. (Now in a somewhat censored version). It's the future, here, now, where distance is no longer a reason why I can't hang out with my friends and people who share interests and goals with.

And I guess, just like in real life where we can choose to avoid people we don't like, online we can also choose not to read blogs or the blogs of people we don't like.