Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby

One of the greatest drives for me, as a writer, is producing for readers. That’s the one thing that keeps me writing in a journal, as opposed to channeling my energies into more traditional writing forms (i.e., novels, plays, short stories, chapbooks of poetry, etc.). It’s knowing that there are people out there who are to some degree anticipating hearing from me on a regular basis that gets me back to the keyboard on a regular basis. Certainly, if this journal proves anything, that impetus alone has generated a pretty substantial body of work. And to get comments from the otherwise faceless crowd, to share some connection or kinship of a sort — well, that’s icing on the cake. Knowing the audience is out there is the main thing, right?

But sometimes, that’s not enough. So there are on-line communities of writers, who presumably share a deeper connection right of the bat — that is, the Work. You post, but probably more hesitantly in a community than in your personal journal, and get back a bunch of comments about your work. Unfortunately, it seems like most of these comments are critiques, rather than camaraderie. Nits, rather than niceties. Cuts, not connections. It feels like “writing communities” suffer from a disconnect between the Work and the Life. As if, as a writer, it is easy to separate the two. When someone says, in the cold unemotive vacuum of an email, “I don’t like this piece at all,” it’s difficult not to feel an underlying “and I don’t care too much for you, either. I don’t care to figure out where you’re coming from, and that really doesn’t bother me a bit.” And let’s face it, even in a chat room, the lag between preguntar and contestar can be nerve-wracking and not at all conducive to conversation.

Sometimes, you need more. A face to face conversation over strong coffee and unfiltered cigarettes about philosophy, religion, politics and sex (in any combination). The ability to speak at different speeds, to emphasize with an expression, to use your hands … all nuances that are lost in the world of electronic communication. The palpable feeling of being able to open book, point to a passage and hold it under your companion’s nose for their perusal.

Talking on the Internet, be it on discussion boards, in chat rooms, via email, is at best two-dimensional. And you have to pick which two dimensions to use for each encounter. If you choose height and width, you give up depth. If you opt for width and depth, you lose height. In all cases, you only have half of the equation that determines velocity, because you have direction, but the speed is outside your control. And velocity is a key element of relationship growth.

So I wonder, as I put together another two-dimensional journal entry. Without the external stimuli of real conversation, actual intercourse between thinking beings, how much can I really say? And how much can you, the reader (or listener, rather), really hear? As I’ve said before, there is a point where a dialogue with self becomes a monologue. Is that the purpose of my blog — to simply be a diary? No. It is intended to be an initiation of a dialogue between myself and whoever on the other end of the wire is affected by what I’ve got to say — and is willing to reciprocate. Likewise, I choose the blogs I read to find that spark, that same longing for dialogue. I don’t care about the headlines, or current affairs so much, unless I’ve got a personal take on the situation. Often, I do. But I don’t report the facts, so to speak. I don’t need more facts. I don’t think ANYONE does. There are enough facts flying in the blogosphere without my regurgitating them from too many sources. If you want them, they are out there. Elsewhere.

So how about it? Coffee? A leisurely drag on a cigarette outside, over a stimulating discussion of how Shakespeare would have felt about the “show, don’t tell” school of poetry? Hmmm…

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