Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fear and Loathing in Blog Vegas

A savage journey 
into "new journalism"
Whenever I hit “publish” on a new post, I heave a big sigh of relief. It’s not exactly a breeze coming up with new ideas to chew over. No... Sometimes they come quickly, tumbling over each other like puppies... More often, though, I have to pull them kicking and screaming out of my... hat. And when they do come... well, some ideas are good, and some are just kind of meh. Sometimes my brain just seems kinda empty. Well, not empty so much as full of crap no one wants to hear about: making mental to-do lists, thinking about what I’m going to wear, snatches of song lyrics, daydreams, menu plans, flash prayers, hopes, dreams, complaints... Yet this is the kind of brain that occasionally produces a blog that people may actually read. Freaky, no?

Nathan Arizona had a
 raison d'etre. So do I!

So... if it’s so hard, why do I keep doing it? I am a firm believer in “if you no longer enjoy doing something (unless it’s a vital duty, of course)... then STOP doing it. Like when I used to go to a gym and began to hate it. At first I thought, “But I’m paying for it!” But then I realized that i didn’t have to be miserable AND pay for it! I could just eat my gym fees and enjoy myself exercising at home! So I guess I could carry this blog workout to a similar conclusion, but the truth is, I do get a bang out of writing it... even if it IS hard sometimes. 

Hunter S. Thompson,
new journalist...
Another blogger I love, my friend Ginny, posed the “Why am I doing this” question in her blog just today! Also freaky, right? Her point was, why blog if there’s already a bunch of great blogs to read - all written by women who are MUCH more together than we seem to be... Also a good point.

As I told Ginny, I’d much rather read about someone who is a similar mess than someone who is canning their own preserves and raising kiss-ass children. I'm hoping you would to! If not, you can always tune into one of those Martha Stewarts instead of us! 

...sometimes played in the
movies by Johnny Depp
I also wonder sometimes if blogging is just plain self serving navel gazing. Maybe it is. But I hope it’s also fun and honest and at least a little entertaining for the reader. Most of all, I hope it points to my sweet and gracious God. ‘Cos He's my raison d’etre. (Pronounce it: “raisin detter” like Nathan Arizona does in Raising Arizona)

Plus, it’s actually the fulfillment of an old secret longing. See, when I was in college and had to pick a major, my mom was all, “I’ll pay for four years, then you have to get a job.” This (reasonable) ultimatum doesn’t exactly scream “English major,” does it? Literature was my passion, but as I also had a lot of encouragement from writing teachers, I pursued journalism. Sadly, it didn’t occur to me that my personality doesn’t exactly lend itself to inserting myself into newsmaking situations and badgering people with questions. Yeah... that’s not me at all. 

Anyway, even way back when in J-school, I envisioned writing in a completely different way than your basic third-person / lead-followed-by-inverted-pyramid arrangement. I am completely able to WRITE that way, but, as I mentioned, the reporting aspect doesn’t suit my temperament. Additionally, even though the writing style serves an important purpose, I find it a little dry. I long to bust out of its straight jacket in favor of a much looser, whimsical style... kind of like what they call(ed) "new journalism," back in the day.

Tom Wolfe,
new journalist...
Yep, I love how guys like the late Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe string words and thoughts together. Thing is, I am not likely to travel with “my attorney” (unless you mean my husband Tom) across the desert with a trunk full of illegal substances to cover the Mint 400 race. Nor am I going to have the opportunity to go “furthur” on a bus full of acid-dropping merry pranksters. But I do have my own brand of adventures... in life, faith and in my own head. Because that’s a magical mystery tour unto itself. Who needs to drop acid to entertain surreal thoughts?! 

tried to take us "FURTHUR"
According to Wikipedia the following are features of “New Journalism” as practiced by those guys: subjectivism, activism, emphasis on form, emphasizing “truth” over “facts,” saturation reporting (the writer is as much part of his story as is the subject)... to name a few. It’s not unlike my blog-style, is it? It’s exactly how I imagined communicating with whoever would give my words the time of day. I wanted to write in a breezy, conversational style... giving my own voice to whimsical reflections on pop culture, human nature and eternal truth. I guess the closest thing to this that I could imagine at the time was being a columnist. Now it’s called blogging, and anyone can do it. They just have to want to. And as difficult as it is sometimes, I do want to. So here’s MY new journalism - dig it deeply!

1 comment:

  1. i love this post. and you're absolutely right. i would much rather read about someone in a similar mess to me than someone who cans their own preserves. nothing wrong with reading about canning your own preserves... but it's not as "dramatic"