Blogging and the desire for revenge

Some thoughts from my thesis on life writing and the desire for revenge:

I keep a blog as a means of practising my autobiographical writing. I keep a blog as a means of expressing myself on the page, but not only for myself. I keep a blog to draw to me an external audience of other people whose voices might endorse my thoughts, or challenge them, and thereby help me develop.

As Steven wrote in a comment some time back, blogging acts as a ‘call and response’ form of communication, whereby the blogger leaves a post to which other bloggers and readers of blogs might comment.

My desire for revenge trickles through my blog posts in subtle ways that may or may not not be obvious. They are nevertheless apparent to me, at least to the part of me that has long felt silenced, in the first instance within my family of origin, in which I am the sixth of nine.

In keeping a blog I subvert the overlapping restrictions on my life and battle my way out of the fog of censorship. I reconstruct myself and in so doing I enact my desire for revenge.

I pay back those who might wish to silence me by writing about the process of being silenced. I thereby expose actions and events, which were once secret, hidden, concealed from view, because they were assessed as taboo.

I explore these concealments through elements of self-disclosure, aware that the desire for revenge when given voice can attract a counter attack, a different version of the desire on the part of those who would prefer that I ‘shut up’, and let them have the only say.

Like Natalie Goldberg, ‘I write because I kept my mouth shut all my life…I write out of hurt and how to make hurt okay’. In so doing I may well hurt or offend others and they in turn can respond accordingly.

As a blogger I have access to identities, my own and those of others, that I could not have known had I continued my writing life in hard copy only.

My blogging life highlights the fluidity of my mind states and how quickly they can change. Likewise, other bloggers come and go. A blog’s shelf life is limited. Blogs that once started in a welter of enthusiasm now lie dormant, but they remain accessible forevermore through the Internet, like relics of the past.

The rapid speed of connection via the Internet enables a response such that by the time I have written and posted an autobiographical reflection; for example, on my resentment and frustrations about the struggle to write free of internal censorship, my state of mind has changed. I no longer feel as I did when I wrote the piece. I may feel that way again one day but for the time I become enthused again and fired up.

My comments to my blog followers, my ‘bleeders’ as Julie Powell calls them, begin to feel fraudulent. I am no longer the person I was when I wrote the piece in the first instance. I have resumed my confident writing stance, a position I am more likely to take up in response to others’ comments about my writing and when I comment on other people’s blogs.

There is a mantra that underlies many blogs: This is your blog. You can write what you like. You can do, as you will. This is your space. Yet there are unwritten constraints that demand consideration if one is to attract a readership.

Bloggers, like all writers, desire a readership. Otherwise why blog? Why write?

91 thoughts on “Blogging and the desire for revenge”

  1. Was I supposed to censor myself? Oops! Just kidding.
    I am a fan of your writing, and have been quickly sucked in to what I thought was real time prose when in fact it was a glimpse into your past, revisited.
    (the smoking blog) for example. But do not censor yourself on my account, write away. You are fantastic! Peace.

  2. States of mind, and emotions, are like the weather, which comes and goes. I've used the weather analogy for emotions since I first discovered it, a very long time ago. It works well. It actually helps me get through some days that otherwise I couldn't get through, just to know that I'll feel differently tomorrow, if not sooner. Like the weather, it's always changing.

    Something that you're getting at here, without having explicitly said it, is therapeutic writing. I don't mean journaling-as-therapy, which of course is useful in its own way. I mean writing that in the end provides a result like therapy. I mean: catharsis, release. Telling the truth in the face of people telling you not to tell the truth.

    Which also gets into bullying, and resistance to it. Families keeping secrets is very much a kind of bullying. It's tacit, non-verbal, and anti-verbal, but it still is basically bullying. I was bullied a lot as a kid, and the bullies always threatened to make things worse if you told someone what was going on. Which is why it feels so powerful to fight back, and speak out. Nowadays I do what I can as an anti-bullying activist.

    The thing is, what you're doing here isn't merely journal-therapy. In my years participating in online poetry forums, including blogs, I've read a thousand too many bad journal-poems, full of raw angst and emotion, passionate clichés, and so forth. What I think you're doing is more artistic. Not journal-writing, but that extra level of artifice that takes us away from the journal and into the genuine essay.

    This essay is a case in point. It's right on target.

  3. I think that you are nearly right. Or perhas I mean often right. I think you are mostly right. Some bloggers and some posts are indeed looking for readers and perhaps affirmation as a bonus.
    Nonetheless for other bloggers and other posts it seems to be more voyage of self discovery rather than a more simplistic reaching out. And I find the bloggers/posts which are driven by/fed by self exploration the most powerful. And honest. And rewarding.
    An insight into what makes a person who they are, and while it may be a temporary state, it is no less real for that. And a privilege to be given access to.

  4. all this is on my mind too.. having a blog brings all this up for to have a truthful voice…my god it's hard. i want to thank you Elizabeth…this is not quite on topic but you have introduced me to some blogs that are changing my life. you have the best taste in blogs that i know!

  5. The basis for a personal blog differs with all of us. To most, I believe, it is a reflection of deep felt sentiments and the need to break away. For others, me included, it is just fun to write, even if written poorly.

  6. You know the old saw, right – If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound?

    I've always thought it ridiculous. I realized recently it has a metaphoric truth for the human condition – If you weep unheard, if you sing and no one notices, if you pray and no one responds, have you prayed/wept/sung?

    We are social animals. We do not have identity without others. We do not exist alone.

    More true than not. But so what? Do you only weep if you are not alone? Do you only sing when others can hear you? Do you only pray when you have faith there is a divine ear?

  7. same questions in my mind! why blogging if i know that SOMEONE (an ex) will read me…? why not lock my writing in my journal as i ever did? a mistery to me…
    a privilege of 21 century? oh, my!!

  8. I think there must be something in the position of the moon, or the edge of chaos, or an effect of electromagnetic radiation from blogging, because I have read several blogs in the last few days that also seem to question self, blog-writing, the audience, authenticity of voice, the reason for being …

    I think we write for different reasons and post for different reasons. For me, part of my motivation is the enforced discipline of a published piece, to finish forming my ideas and polishing my sentences (I do try really). It is an interesting experiment.

    I always feel, whether autobiographic or academic, fun, serious, we are all writing stories to see ourselves more clearly, whether intentionally or not. I believe humans are story-tellers and story readers/listeners.

    I found your essay compelling in its search for truth.

  9. I shall endeavour not to censor myself Jane, however much a certain level of censorship is inevitable, not just for respectability but for the sale of the art.

    Thanks too for your kind words, Jane.

  10. I started blogging to keep a gardening journel – it turned into a whole lot more as I tried to make sense of why I am like I am. I enjoy it but sometimes I look back on a piece and wonder what I must have been thinking when I wrote it? Now I know – it was some other me.

  11. elisabeth – i've reflected on some aspects of what you've written here, for some time prior to my reading this. my own blogs (three at the moment) have expressed purposes . . . . from the outset i decided exactly what their purpose was to be for me and then to circumscribe the content and direction with intent. each is about acquiring skillsets in a public context. two are about expressing emerging understandings and placing them up for public scrutiny. one is about approaching my personal work. in that way there are features of censorship i suppose because i have a sense of direction and so i contain the content to maintain the aim. i do have a sense from my readership that there are certain aspects of the dynamism of the status quo that i establish along the way (i bet that makes no sense to anyone by myself but onwards i go!!), that they would like to hold in place. but i know that, in part at least, there is an urgency about the direction these blogs are moving in that is beyond any control i might wish to place on them. steven

  12. I reckon writing can be a terrific weapon against bullies, Art. So I'm pleased you mention it here.

    It's the story of the Emperor and his New Clothes, too. Writing can enable you to speak a different sort of truth and one that exposes the sorts of falsehoods we live with daily.

    That's one of the things I've come to value about blogging. The fact that voices that have often been silenced get a chance to be heard.

    I know it's not all positive but it's a whole lot better than only certain – generally more powerful – voices getting a chance to rise to the surface.

    We all get a chance, if we try, and that to me is beyond the therapeutic. It's exhilarating.

    Thanks, Art.

  13. Of course not all bloggers seek to find a readership as directly as I suggest, Elephant's Child.

    I sometimes think of the poet, Gerald Manley Hopkins. As I recall he wrote his poems not for an audience of people but for the greater glory of his God.

    And those who write purely for the purpose of self discovery, well I wonder that they feel the need to share it in the blogosphere unless part of that self discovery involves some sort of feedback, or at least a fantasy of feedback from others.

    And finally, I don't imagine that everyone who blogs is as self conscious as those like me who agonise about our motives.

    Some people blog purely for the love of it, or the joy or the sense of freedom and self expression etc etc. There's probably a thousand reasons while people blog, I'm just referring to the one that grabs me most.

    Thanks, Elephant's Child.

  14. I'm glad you think my taste in blogs is good, Jane Lancaster. It's a compliment to all of us in this blogging room here.

    I enjoy blogs of all types but mostly I go for the writerly and the conversational. I go for the ones that have an edge of sincerity as far as I can see. I go for the creativity of those who paint or make or draw or relate or write or struggle in some way, shape or form. Come to think of it the list is endless.

    Thanks, Jane L.

  15. I'm glad you mention the fun of it, Jerry. It has to be fun at some level even if at times painful, otherwise blogging might become far too serious.

    The fun of it for me has to do with the business of connecting with diverse others.

    Thanks, Jerry.

  16. Glenn, you may have heard of Donald Winnicott, a wise man who worked with children, mothers and babies. He suggested that there is no mother without a baby, no baby without a mother.

    Winnicott was a creature of his time. So today we might alter his words to say there is no baby without a caregiver and no caregiver without a baby. Sounds ghastly but I hope you get my point.

    All of which is to say I agree with you about the significance of our social connectedness. We need one another. And the blogosphere demonstrates this loud and clear. We're all in it together.

    Thanks Glenn

  17. Blogging is a privilege of the 21st century as you say, Yolanda.

    Years ago those who wrote would have confined some of it to their diaries and others would have chatted over the fence.

    The great thing about blogging is that there is a greater element of informality and of transparency. And as I said earlier many more voices can be heard.

    We can also express our ambivalence about being heard by certain others who like our ex's may or may not tune in.

    Thanks, Yolanda.

  18. Human beings are great story tellers, as you say, Isabel. We start young. it's part of our identity formation and those of us who cannot offer at least some sort of coherent story about themselves when required can often be ostracised. A person without a story disturbs us. As if they have no identity.

    I Think about the folks who suffer from conditions like Alzheinmers, the way we might speak aout them: he's not himself anymore. She's lost hersself.

    All this is to say I agree with you about the significance of storytelling within the blogosphere. In a way it's like one gigantic show and tell.

    Thanks, Isabel.

  19. It's strange how much blogs evolve Jane Healy.

    I look back at my initial profile and I wonder sometimes what I might write today given the knowledge I've gleaned from my life within the blogosphere compared to what I wrote then when I started to blog in what seems like many years ago.

    It's good thing that we evolve. How dull it would be if we stood still.

    Thanks Jane H.

  20. It is interesting, Steven, that your blogs too have evolved.

    I have thought from time to time about setting up a separate blog in which I might write even more candidly than I do here. But if I were to do that I'd probably need to conceal my identity even more and I can't see much point in that.

    The art of writing has as much to do with what we exclude as with what we include. But, as you say, there is a dynamism here in the blogosphere that we cannot control as well as we might like to think we can.

    I suspect it has to do With the call and respond movement you mentioned to me way back.

    We influence one another and our blogs change in subtle ways along the way and sometimes there can even be more dramatic changes as we move along under the weight of our fellow bloggers' expectations.

    Thanks, Steven.

  21. elisabeth,
    i wanted to let you know that i have been following this discussion avidly, even tho because of the immediate demands of my job, i can't jump in right yet. still: it's a broadly fascinating topic, and a specifically critical one to me, personally. i'll add some thoughts as soon as i can clear space to think! carry on… i so appreciate your critical thinking and clarity of expression.

  22. I only read two blogs on a regular basis that focus on autobiographical writing, yours and Jennifer Trinkle’s. I read them because the writing is good but I don’t really get the need to open-caste-mine the past like the two of you do. Yes, we writers all mine our pasts which is why I differentiate between sinking a shaft into the past and extracting the juicy inspiration and leaving it open like a wound that you pick at (too graphic?) in full view. In a recent comment on Jennifer’s blog I said that I thought this kind of writing was like artificial respiration, keeping the past alive when we really ought to let it die a natural death. People can read my books and poems and guess at what issues I might have but the inspiration has been processed, it’s no longer raw and obvious; I gave Jonathan an obsession with breasts because it was an easy way to take a cheap shot at him not because I’m a mammaphile.

    Working through the past I get more than the need for any kind of revenge. I really don’t understand revenge. I’ve been hurt and I’ve hurt people. I’m sorry for what I’ve done and I’m sorry stuff was done to me but I don’t think I’ve ever felt the need to “pay back evil with evil” and that’s not because I believe that it’s God’s place to obtain recompense on my behalf, I just don’t feel vengeful. I usually pity the people who’ve hurt me before anything else. I’ve always seen bullies as rather pathetic individuals. I think possibly what I don’t understand is badness. I’ve done things that are wrong, illegal, immoral, but I struggle to think of myself as a bad person and I usually attribute these slips and failings to human weakness; my intent is never to hurt and when I have it’s been accidental or at least coincidental.

    Revenge crops up in storylines all the time – a child’s parents are killed and years later, now grownup, they infiltrate the family of the killer to wreck revenge on their offspring – but I don’t get that. I never got it in the Bible and I don’t get it in secular society. I do understand lashing out when in pain but this whole “revenge is a dessert best served cold” mentality is quite beyond me. Two wrongs don’t make a right. I can see that working out something on a bit of paper as being a healthier solution to picking up a weapon and having at whoever’s injured you in the past but how many new and interesting ways do you need to devise to kill your dad on the page to make you feel better?

    Revenge is not a need unless Maslow got his chart terribly wrong. Perhaps I’ve not been injured badly enough although there are those who would say I have been. When I last saw my brother he told me, “Jimmy, you got it the worst of all of us,” and I genuinely found myself wondering what was so bad about my childhood. It was clear that my brother and sister’s anger was still quite raw – they went through the motions of mourning because that’s what you do – but if I was the one who’d had it the worst (a fact I dispute but let’s not go there) then why was I the one who was coping best? And you can’t say it’s because I’m a thick-skinned brute because there’s no one more sensitive than me.

    As regards you writing things that are no longer true I have no problem there unless they weren’t true when you first wrote them and that is assuming that the writing is not fictional and if that’s the case all bets are off. We are allowed to change our minds. We are allowed to modify our opinions. What we felt when we were angry may not be what we feel in the cold light of day. And if people choose to throw quotes in our face – “Well you once said this or that” – then the answer is simple. All you have to do is compare my two poems ‘So?’, which was written the day my dad died, an ‘A Drink Up the Crow Road’ written on the first anniversary of his death to see how I’d changed. Change is what life is all about.

  23. I blog because this stuff would keep rolling around in my head at night when I try to go to sleep. My insomnia is bad enough.

    What blogging has done for me is connect me to kindred spirits who share some of my values, interests and experiences. Blogging makes my world just a tad bit less lonely.

  24. readership, for me, is not my motivation. seeing, being alive and sentient, and being aware is first. writing is the close second. readership is a wonderful surprise that sometimes sprouts.

    blogging is such a varied thing, isn't it? strange and wonderful.


  25. As I've stated in this comment section many times in the past, I'm a bit conflicted about autobiographical writing. My own, not anybody elses. Reading your blog always makes me want to do more autobiography. But then, I think of the potential problems if I got a little too honest. And yet, I don't want to do it UNLESS I can be honest. So that's my conflict.

    I don't know if I want to write autobiography for revenge necessarily. Oddly enough, I feel I can get a degree of revenge writing about pop culture and politics. I like puncturing holes in the conventional wisdom, rooting for the underdg and misfit, and raging against the machine. Autobiography might explain WHY I like to do these things (even to myself), and could be the personal yin to my cutural yang.

    Beyond all that, maybe you and me and everyone else who writes, be it hard of soft copy, does it not because we have good childhoods or bad childhoods or childhoods in-between. We write simply because we want to write. We're creative. Or, to be more inclusive about it, everybody's creative, but for some reason, our own has never been snuffed out as it has with so many others. And, yes, Elisabeth, even though you may truck in nonfiction, I consider you a creative writer.

  26. I would have to agree with The Elephant's Child in that not everyone blogs just to have an audience; after all, an audience and dialogue are NOT the same thing. We write to create conversations and connections with others; it's hard to have that with 4000 followers (which I know some blogs have.)

    As for blogging for revenge – hah, I know firsthand about that. I mean, hell, I used one blog post to confront my sexual abuser, and I used another to confront a politician who would seek to redefine rape for legal purposes. I most certainly use my blog to talk about the things that in real life would cause people to just cover their ears and shout "La la la!"

    In the end, we finally get a little slice of the world just the way we want it – we get to create what we want to create, and say what we want to say – and even if the moment has passed and that person no longer exists 20 minutes later… wasn't it better than giving that person no voice at all?

  27. Lots of pronouncements.

    It's okay to make pronouncements as long as one remembers that they're personal pronouncements, and not often universal.

    Personally, I never write for anyone but myself. I write because I want to write. Sometimes it feels like a necessity, like something that rises up inside like some kind of impossible pressure that can only be relieved by making something. For me, though, it's not always writing that I do; it's often music, or art, or something else. Writing is only one channel.

    But mostly I write when I want to, about what I want to write about. I'm hardly ever asked to write anything. Maybe the occasional book review. So I basically do it for myself, for no other reason than to do it.

    My Dragoncave blog began purely as a repository for finished essays. Eventually, some poems appeared. I write the occasional personal essay, but not that many. I write a fair bit of criticism, which is basically opinion. I post a lot of photographs and poems, I guess.

    Maybe there's an element of wanting to share, or wanting to show things off that mean a lot to me, or that I care about. But I'm not writing to change anyone's mind, or whatever. I like it.

    That's the thing: Never underestimate the urge to just create things. A lot of other rationales for creating things are maybe true but maybe not essential. Just making things is a joy, all by itself.

  28. I read this yesterday and then went away to think. In the end I think I blog only because It feels so much better than drawing, painting, and writing only for myself.

  29. Elisabeth, when you write, I read, from the first vowel to the last period.

    What you expressed about blogging spoke my own words (which I wouldn't know what and how to say them) and more.

    I loved my old posts, and I longed to be able to write like how I did, again. I realised that my writings really reflect the time, the me, of that time. This is my archaic way of putting it. And until I regain my enthusiasm, my excitement, my wanting to tell a story, I will never be able to write that way again. My writing/blogging, also depends on who my audience was, who was I writing too.

    Currently, I feel like I am not sure why I am blogging. I feel like I have told all the stories I needed to tell. My blog is not about travels or food, it is about living and my return to my conundrum life, I am unable to express any other feelings but gratefulness to God. I am more excited at my other blog The Journey. Most days, I feel like I am an Aishah, and almost nil Ocean Girl. That is why I am seriously considering of changing my call sign to Fazlisa, but I do not want to be so caught up in the moment, like what I have done before.

    Too much about me Elisabeth, but it is all about your post, what your post has brought out of all of us.

  30. This is so perfectly timed, Elisabeth. I'm still wiping away tears after reading Marie's blog ( about being humiliated as a child.

    The lovely SA author Colin Thiele chose her work about the incident and praised her for it. She was brave enough to write about it and he was one of those kind adults you remember forever.

    I'm a fan of your writing and know that I write partly for revenge, partly for solace and partly to be heard. It's been six years now and is an important part of my life and how I view things. Censorship does occur; probably more than my readers realise but what's blogging without our beloved, needed readers?

  31. A.M.D.G. Ad maiorem Dei gloriam,the Jesuit motto, Elisabeth. (I expect that you knew that). The poet Les A Murray heads his work that way as well.
    I'm with Jim as far as revenge, pay back, goes: it may sound pompous to say that I see it as an ignoble desire, destructive to yourself.
    Your father while alive seemed to take his revenge on his family for what you all had done to his life. Am I right in thinking that you don't want revenge against him, but against your unimportance in the family, and the obligation to keep secrets?

    In your dream you note your father as your present age bowed, weeping over what traditional dream symbolism would say was you, suggesting that what you wanted was evidence of his love for you. But, you know far more about dreams than I do: I'm probably talking through my hat.
    We could almost all have been more in circumstances more ideal for us. But, if one is at all satisfied with oneself, how can one deplore what shaped us?

  32. I've been to Jennifer Trinkle's wonderful wonderful blog, Jim. Thanks for putting me onto her. Such heartfelt and profound honest writing. She is a writer after my own heart, but you knew that didn't you, Jim? Hence the recommendation.

    I was about to write the word 'referral' rather than 'recommendation' as if you were a doctor recommending a specialist. The slip seems apt, Jennifer T's a terrific autobiographical writer.

    I agree with you, Jim, that our states of mind and our beliefs hopefully change over time and that this is reflected in our writing but as the journalist Timothy Garton Ashe writes, 'memory is like a re-writable CD' and therefore when you talk of burying the past I prefer to think of re-writing, but it but not in the false fanciful way of recreating it. Rather I think of the subtle changes that take place whenever we re-remember events.

    They never stay the same and so in exploring the past it changes. It does not get stuck. My fear is that if we ignore that past we run the risk of getting stuck in it.

    You Jim re-write your past through your poetry and fiction whereas we, the likes of Jennifer Trinkle and I rewrite it through our experiences in re-remembering.

    As for revenge, Jim, I think the word itself is problematic. People hear it as an enactment.

    Again and again I try to emphasise it's a feeling of hurt and rage and one that can often rise over the tops of our heads.

    We don't always recognise when we have been hurt, at least not consciously and yours is a case point.

    Your siblings tell you how bad it was for you and you can't remember. I wonder why? Maybe because in some ways it was ghastly for you, too ghastly for you to remember.

    And maybe too it's part of what has led you into a writing life, as a way of dealing with that which you cannot remember.

    It's just a hunch, Jim. I may be entirely wrong, but allow me to conjecture.

    Thanks Jim for your wonderful contribution here, especially the introduction to Jennifer Trinkle.

  33. Blogging is a great antidote to loneliness, I agree Robert. It also helps to quiet our troubled and over fertile minds and connects us to so many wonderful people like you with whom we can rave on for hours.

    Thanks, Robert.

  34. I wouldn't want to circumscribe why people blog at all, Erin. I suppose in saying something about why I blog it presupposes that others do it for the same reasons.

    Margaret Atwood lists some 72 reasons why people write. Well I reckon there are probably easily as many if not more reasons why people blog.

    Thanks, Erin.

  35. Of course we desire readership. That is communication and that is a beautiful thing. Call and response is perfect. Yes.
    But, we cannot write with that in mind. Or, if we do, we cannot call ourselves writers.
    I think.
    What do I know?
    Not much.
    But if there is no blood in the ink, I don't care about it. That's me.

  36. Hi John, it looks as though you might have removed your comment. I hope nothing's wrong. I was about to reply last night but it got too late and so I lost my capacity to think.

    In any case, I want to thank you for your thoughts, intrigued as I am by the notion that you think I'm being hard on myself. I presume you mean in reference to my desire for revenge.

    It might be a matter of semantics. Maybe because I'm now so used to the word revenge I don't see it as others seem to. I see it as far more benign, the desire that is not its enactment.

    Thanks, John.

  37. I keep using the term autobiographical fiction, Kirk, something I have borrowed from the Australian writer, Gerald Murnane as away of describing much of my writing.

    As Ms Moon says further down in these comments, there has to be 'blood in the ink', for her to be interested and to my way of thinking if there's blood in the ink and it's the writer's own blood, then it has to be in some ways autobiographical.

    As far as I can see most bloggers write to varying degrees about themselves, and that to me is the autobiographical.

    as for revenge again, it can arise when we least expect it and I can imagine the pleasure you take in poking holes in the falsities of those who would have us believe otherwise.

    Thanks, Kirk.

  38. Tracy, I know some blogs have 4000 followers and therefore a conversation with each is impossible and maybe those blogs have grown too big for the blogger to converse with others.

    There are blogs I follow where the blogger never responds to comments in the comments section, and many people leave comments, interesting comments.

    Here the call and response has a different quality, rather like one of those Landmark sessions, which i have never attended, only heard about, where the organisers get up on stage and urge the audience to say things or do things and to single themselves out while the organisers stay up on stage and provoke a response.

    I'm not so inclined to stay up on the stage the whole time and hopefully my blog will not ever grown so large that I cannot find enough time to respond to each and every comment at least to most of them or to the ones that seem to need a counter response.

    I'm sure there are many reasons why people blog, Tracy, and you're right, not everyone wants the same interaction with their audience. Just as there are those who read blogs and have no wish to comment or to interact with the blogger.

    I prefer the interactions myself but I can understand there are others who like simply to exhibit their work without any dialogue with the viewers whatsoever.

    Thanks, Tracy.

  39. I'm all for pronouncements too, Art, as you say, as long as they are acknowledged as personal and not intended to force a point of view down someone else's throat.

    I like to be persuaded myself to take on new points of view. It adds to the colour of my world and I also like to present other people – who are open to them – with other perspectives as well, not as doctrine though, merely as a possibility.

    I agree with you, Art, sometimes we write purely out of an urge to create and for me this can feel quite different from the posts I write when I'm wanting to communicate a point of view or describe a particular situation. and then there's the thinking aloud…

    Lots of possibilities.

    Thanks, Art.

  40. The feel good factor , Anthony as you say, is an important factor in blogging.

    There are those I suspect who might say it's the most important factor. If it didn't feel good to blog, I doubt we'd do it, unless of course we are masochists and that's always a possibility.

    Thanks, Anthony.

  41. Well, Fazlisa, maybe it is time to adopt your real name and identity, once more.

    I've been on Marylinn's blog of late where she put up a post about the spelling of her first name. It reminds me of the post you wrote recently about your name.

    To me it's all about identity, but not as a fixed entity. We all have so many sides to us, but to write authentically, as Ms moon says later on in these comments, there has to be blood in the ink.

    It's an excellent expression I think and attests to what you're saying her I think.

    Once you lose sight of yourself and maybe also your audience however much imagined and even if that audience is only yourself, it becomes harder to write.

    Steven's notion of call and response applies here, even if it's only internal.

    We all tend to talk to ourselves in our heads, and so we become our own audiences, that is if we're prepared to listen to our inner voices.

    Thanks, Fazlisa. I hope you can get your blogging enthusiasm back again.

  42. Thanks for the link to Marie's blog, Kath. I've just been over to visit her, another wonderful writer, and joy of joys a fellow Australian abroad, as you are about to become.

    I agree with you Kath, there's more censorship that goes into our blogs than meets the eye, however open we might appear to be.

    Think of all the stuff we leave out.

    Thanks, Kath.

  43. It's a paradox isn't it, Frances, to deplore the circumstances that shaped us for aren't they the building blocks of who we have become.

    And yet, I think it's fair to say that many of us rail against the atrocities of our childhoods through our writing simply because we can do it now and we could not then.

    I love all that religious Latin symbolism, especially as it feels so vital for me, indoctrinated as I was in childhood. From the distance of adulthood it now has a different quality and I'm glad I imbibed it as part of the tapestry of who I am, but it doesn't mean I go along with it.

    But then history was and ought not be judged by present standards.
    Thanks, Frances.

  44. I agree Ms Moon to be focused on our readership is to become paralysed, and unable to write.

    I've sung the praises of your expression, 'blood in the ink'. It's such a powerful way of putting it.

    I hope you don't mind if I use it again and again. Thanks for such wonderful words, Ms Moon. You are such a passionate wordsmith.

  45. I can't see what you're on about. Raised in a toffy suburb, university education, successful marriage….for goodness sake!
    Did daddy get fresh with you? is that what you're on about? Or was it a hobo under a bridge? So what.
    There are slumkids in this city raised by thieves and drunkards whose mothers care nothing about them, did you know that? Their entire childhood is violence and sex. Go to any magistrates court and you'll see a long parade of them, in trouble with the law all their lives. I'm speaking as a poor sod who got jailed at seventeen for having no money in my pockets. It's been war ever since -with people like you.

    What's your gripe, really?

  46. I think it is acceptable to write even if there is no hope of someone else ever reading it. Self expression is a fundamental need and a poem that is unread by others can still be beautiful.

    A good example is the painter Van Gogh, who sold no paintings during his life, but still produced some profoundly expressive works.

  47. Not all is as it seems, Robert, but I'm pleased to see you back. I wish you weren't quite so scathing in your comments but that's your nature, I know by now so I'll let it ride.

    Have you seen the film Blessed? the lives of the kids portrayed in that Australian film remind me of the folks you refer to here. Not everyone both in the so-called 'toffy' suburbs arrives with a spoon in their mouth. The suburbs in the film are Footscray fast becoming gentrified but in my youth, not so.

    Don't worry if you don't 'get' what I'm on about. It's purely speculative, no gospel truths here, just a little exploration.

    Thanks Robert.

  48. I agree Laoch, you needn't 'sell' your work to appreciate the value of doing it, like Van Gogh.

    I suspect he was driven to create as some here suggest, as one reason why we write, paint etc, but I suspect he also had his admirers and audience during his life time as well.

    Thanks, Laoch

  49. No, Elisabeth, it is not a paradox. It is a phase, a stage of life or immaturity where one can still hold irreconcilable views, as children can.
    The next stage, if people move to it, is as Gwen Raverat quotes her uncle Lenny Darwin: "I remember all the silly and bad things things I ever did; all the times I was unkind or tactless or made a fool of myself." A far more harrowing phase, moving on from victimhood….(at last…statute of limitations, etc)… But some older people punish themselves thus.

    And hopefully they then move to an acceptance of the universe, the world and everything: possibly the stage that your mother is at. Ironically, at this stage we are no longer interested in their thoughts, perceptions or visions.
    I notice in your comment to Jim, you say that by "revenge" you actually mean something quite different from revenge. But, I see that in your main post you say: "I pay back those who…." Yes, that is revenge. Pay back. An action, not a feeling.
    Since your post on smoking, Elisabeth, I have come to understand that your blog is not about you and your life, but a presentation of your writings, possibly all about issues long resolved in your life. Is this so?
    I see that people love your writing.

  50. "atrocities of our childhood"? Surely not, Elisabeth. Of course I am not speaking for you, who may well have atrocities in your background.
    Difficulties, problems, inadequacies, failures, yes: the common experience.
    "Atrocities" sounds like being a child soldier; like being sold into prostitution or slavery. Or like the treatment of indigenous children in our lifetime. Not like being a disadvantaged western child.
    Thanks to cohorts, I knew what was happening when I menstruated at age 12, and I braced myself to tell my mother, who said nothing but bought me pads and belt, as required at the time. The first and last time she bought them during my five high school years, in which I, having no pocket or other money, made do with rags or stolen pads or whatever. Or didn't. Got by. Lived through it. Even when she shoved me in as a boarder,
    A difficulty, not an atrocity.
    I'm sorry for you if there are atrocities in your past, Elisabeth.

  51. As I understand it, Frances, children are the least able to reconcile irreconcilable differences. They tend to operate more in black and white terms, though I'm sure there are degrees of this and exceptions.

    As for the revenge aspects to which you refer here, in my comments to Jim, I suppose it's difficult to make a distinction between the desire for revenge, which can be expressed through words whether written or spoken and the desire for revenge that goes without words and is instead turned into an action or actions, often of the most serious and dangerous kind.

    It's one of those things I struggle with all the time.

    When I write I do not intentioonally seek to punish or pay back anyone. It's only in retrospect that I consider these things. I know that before I write, I may at times be driven by pain or hurt and want to pay back, but more often than not the feeling stays in the realm of the written and spoken.

    It is a form of revemge perhaps, but, as they say, 'Sticks and stones can break my bones…'

    Of course, I don't agree with this childhood ditty. It's too simplistic. Words can hurt us very very much. Why else have libel laws?

    As for the word 'atrocity', Frances, perhaps I use it too loosely.

    Yes, there were atrocities that occurred within my family of origin, and yes I believe to a large extent I have worked through some or most of them.

    And finally in response to your question about the nature of my writing, whether it is simply the story of my life or whether I am more concerned with the writing itself, I'd say yes to both.

    Here's a quote from the memoirist and writer, Patricia Hampl, who writes about the 'mongrel nature of memoir writing'.

    She writes in her book, 'I Could Tell You Stories' that 'the truth memoir has to offer is not neatly opposite from fiction's truth. Its methods and habits are different, and it is perhaps a more perverse genre than the novel: It seems to be about a individual self, but it is revealed as a minion of memory which belongs not only to the personal world but to the public realm. As such the greatest memoirs tend to be allergic to mere confession and mistrustful of revenge, though these are two of the genre's natural impulses.

    This refusal of memoir to display successfully raw confession or revenge is not, I'm sure, evidence of its inability to sustain personal truth…the memoir is not a rest home for sensitive souls…it's a quirk of the memoir that its narrator can never be its hero…the memoir prefers the cooler, more neutral term. The narrator is the protagonist – not the hero.'

    Sorry to go on with such a long quote but it seems to me Hampl is onto something here.

    To me it is one of the reasons why autobiographical writing – what Hampl here calls memoir, though the terms are not strictly interchangeable but linked – is so vexed within the blogosphere.

    People might want to believe its either absolutely true or else that it's fiction, whereas both and neither apply.

    Thanks, Frances.

  52. So none of this is true? Good heavens, I feel so silly, like I paid for a stripper and got a drag queen.

    Footscray will never get gentrified, they'd have to boot out half of Vietnam and half the Sudan. The place was full of empty shops until they imported these folk to rent them. That's economics for you, masquerading as compassion.

    I'm not scathing, I post some lovely comments, full of XXXXX's. Look at blog Copperwitch for example.


    -Robert. XXXXXXXXX.

  53. Hello, Elizabeth! I am finally making it here.

    I started writing a blog to come to terms with some very difficult memories. My impetus was to bring them out into the open, to have other people as witnesses, and to work towards a comfortable . . . feeling about my parents. There is something very satisfying about being able to control the story in a way, too, and to have it out there, which *is* a kind of revenge, though I have never thought about it that way before.

    I understand what you mean about the changes that take place between writing something and posting it. The post becomes an artifact of a particular state of mind. The mind has moved on.

    Looking forward to reading more of your blog.


  54. I'm pleased to see you here Jennifer, and glad that my post made some sense to you.

    It's late here now and I'm almost blogged out for the evening but I hope we can continue to discuss the nature of our writing from time to time. It is a fascinating process.

    Thanks, Jennifer.

  55. Be sensible. There are categories for everything, so we know what to expect. Biography is a true record -unless you want to insult the writer.


    (I like Jim, but he's your pet all the same)

  56. Elisabeth, that is a fascinating and unanswerable topic. I write for myself, but I blog to connect with others.
    The tree in the forest has already been mentioned, if no one read my blog, I would continue to write, just not in that domain.

  57. Slowly, slowly am I getting to the writing of myself in my blog. And, reflecting on my last post, your thesis came into my mind. One writes to survive and having published, can continue being. Thankyou.

  58. I am fond of Jim, Robert, but he's not the only blogger whom I enjoy. There are many, though Jim took me under his wing as it were when I started my blogging life and I'm grateful for his on-going support and interest. Besides and perhaps more importantly he keeps a brilliant blog.

    Now if you were to keep a blog, too, Robert, as I've said before, I'd be among your visitors.

    Thanks, Robert.

  59. The fog of censorship can sometimes ease people's anxieties whether we as writers impose it on ourselves or whether other people impose it upon us, Murr.

    I'm pleased to see you here. Thanks.

  60. Good to hear from you Antares and to know that you'd write regardless of audience response, which I suspect is true for most of us. Still, it usually helps to have readers.

    Thanks, Antares.

  61. I look forward to more of the personal, the 'you' in your wonderful writing, Christine. And thanks for your support here.

    One of our cats who had disappeared for four days and just now out of the blue has returned. We've fed her twice and now she's desperate for affection.

    Cats, like people, need acknowledgment despite their sometimes distancing behaviour. It's the same I think sometimes for bloggers.

    How this connects with my pleasure with the personal, I'm not sure, though I'm sure there's a link somewhere.

    Thanks Chritine

  62. Hello Elisabeth. Thank you for your insight. I can say anything but I blog because I am lonely. I thank you for writing and for having this conversation with me.

  63. Yes, that is the beauty of writing. The act of creation allows the mind to work through whatever it needs to, be it revenge, frustration, desire, enthusiasm – anything goes.

  64. This is an interesting perspective – I can see what you mean, especially with the topics you write about. It doesn't apply so much to my style of blogging… I don't really have any censorship issues to get over.

  65. Thanks, Fazlisa. Blogging certainly helps with loneliness, I find. There's this odd sense that in some ways, you're never alone. There's always a fellow blogger out there keen to converse.

  66. I agree tattytiara. Writing can be such a balm in all manner of ways, whether in reading or in its execution.

    And many mixed desires can be met, both positive and negative through writing. Of course it helps to be, at least vaguely, aware of which is which.

    Thanks tattytiara.

  67. You're lucky not to have to deal with censorship issues, Rachel, but at least you can understand the struggles some of us must endure.

    Maybe it gets worse as we get older, or maybe it gets easier. I'm not sure which.

    Thanks, Rachel.

  68. Dear Elisabeth, thanks for your kind comment. I read your post, but I don't understand this desire for revenge. It must create a very unsatisfactory and unhappy feeling to see other people hurt even if they have harmed you. Revenge is
    useless and not constructive.But maybe I didn't understand your post very well. In that case :"Sorry".

  69. We are meant to change, evolve, and sometimes even revert. I write because I have to. I do not commit to stand behind the feelings or beliefs I express in one single piece for the rest of my life. I reserve the right to recant. Why not?

    You are an excellent writer. I won't recant on that.

  70. Revenge is destructive, Reader, if it's allowed to take over. People can be so tormented as to behave appallingly, but as I try to tell people all the time I'm talking more about a 'desire' a feeling, the hurt you experience when someone has done you wrong.

    I'm interested in what happens to that feeling when it can be thought about, when it can be processed and turned into something else.

    I'm not talking about destructive revenge, though the word revenge is hard to disentangle from such powerful feelings.

    Thanks Reader.

  71. I agree, Unknown Mami, we need to be able to express ourselves at one time and then later if necessary, to 'recant'.

    Change happens all the time. What I write one day is very likely to change in some way over time.

    One difficulty, I think, is that people tend to read the written word as static. They can't reconcile themselves to the idea that it might change.

    Thanks, Mami.

  72. Thank you for stopping at my A-Z for the "Q" word. I'm not a writer and yet I enjoy my blog so that must that deep within I do have an inkling to write. I call myself a "writer groupie" because I like to hang out with writers.

    I'm new to your blog and I will read your back posts.
    Wanna buy a duck

  73. Although I do not write, I completely understand what you say. More than any other arts, writing means loneliness to me and I think this feedback that you get from your followers is much needed and probably makes you evolve in another different ways.
    I think that the feedback I have or do not have on my images does influence the evolution of my photography, although it is still me.
    I actually think that blogging and sharing my images has set me free from the classical rules of photography as my family and friends might appreciate them.
    I don't know if I what I say make sense.

  74. Of course we want an audience, but we want a safe audience, people who do not really know us. At least that is how I started out. When I started this blog, I wanted a place to explore without the risk of embarrassing myself to those who know me (or think they do). Over time, it has evolved and I think I have evolved with it.
    My blog is a form of stress management. My job is very high stress. I work full time and I am in a full time program to earn my Masters degree in Nursing Education. I don’t vent (although I like to read other people’s vents), I set my own rules for the blog and it forces me to find something happy and nice to share. I have a great life and sharing that through my blog helps me to appreciate it. Reading other peoples blogs, like yours, also helps. It is good to know I am not the only one who has felt that way. So even if your feelings change after you write the post, thank you for sharing that moment with us.

  75. What you write makes perfect sense, Elisabelle. The feedback from our blogging audience affects the way we blog. And it also helps against the loneliness of life.

    Thanks, Elisabelle.

  76. Sorry for the somewhat belated response here, Kat.

    I prefer a 'safe' audience too, but also one in which people are prepared to say they disagree with me when they do. That can be challenging on both sides, those who disagree and those disagreed wirh.

    It's doubly hard in the blogosphere because we miss all those subtle cues we share when we speak face to face. We miss the look in the eyes that says even though I might disagree with you, I respect you and your opinion as different from my own perhaps but one worth discussing, as is mine.

    Thanks, Kat.

  77. For us with fewer than 4,000 followers, blogging has a somewhat guerrilla aspect. It is running around in the dark, nailing handbills to utility poles. For some it may equate with oratory shared from atop a box in a metropolitan square. I enjoy having made a commitment to myself to show up no fewer than 10 times a month with what I feel is something to say. That others comment does establish a connection and ease a sense of isolation. Without this electronic forum, we would be much more challenged to find each other. I admire and adopted your responding to commenters. It makes the process seem more like a dialogue and the words they leave are no less meaningful than the post; in fact, they often expand it and widen my thoughts. However, in looking back over the going-on three years since I started a blog, I was reminded that it is the wish, the need to work at becoming a stronger writer, that keeps me coming back.

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