When I first started blogging on Typepad, it was a "practice." I wrote nearly every day, usually in the morning, for an invisible audience. For some reason, I always wrote for an audience, even though I didn't have one. Eventually two of my three daughters started following my writing, along with a few other people. Not many.
Driving in my RV through Oklahoma, I got a call on my cell phone from a man whose name I had heard only in conversations about the Amarillo EcoVillage I was headed for. This total Stranger heard my name from a friend, and called to "warn me away" from Bill, a man I was seeing. I had mentioned only Bill's first name in my blog, said NOTHING personal, except that I was on my way to Texas where he lived. Since Stranger knew a few people, he had been able to piece things together, and had 'found' me. I later discovered that Bill's ex-girlfriend was also following my blog. The main thing I had heard about Stranger was that he was insane (from Bill). I was interested in what Stranger the Insane had to say, so I talked to him for thirty minutes or so. Essentially he said, "I've read all of your blogs, and your poetry, and you seem like a really nice person. You need to be more careful of who gets your personal information (that I got from your blog.) And you need to steer clear of Bill." It was disconcerting.
When I came in for a landing, I did a search on my blogs and found that posts I had made from email showed my automatic signature, my current address and phone number. I spent the next day deleting that identifying information from the public eye.
I have been a bit more cautious, but still tend to trust the world. At OS, it was different. The anonymity that Typepad had afforded was erased at OS. People actually not only READ blogs, they COMMENTED.
My first two posts were just little things. I don't even know where they are now. But at OS, I realized I was in the big leagues, with high caliber writers, so I put more effort into my work. My third post, "Bi-Polar Housekeeping," won me an Editors Pick...EP. I didn't expect it...I didn't really expect anything. Suddenly, many, many people were reading and commenting on my story. One person or two were even critical. I was shocked. I was totally taken aback. I tried to answer people's comments and questions, as I had seen other writers do. I didn't really know the procedures. As I got into the day, and the barrage of comments, I began to have a sense of panic rising in me. What if I'd said something I shouldn't? What if I'd revealed something personal that would harm my family? What had I done, putting myself out there on the internet? I realized that....this is what those movie stars and authors and other people thrown into the limelight feel...exposed. I realized...I don't want to be famous! It was scary. I called my daughter who is a writer, and asked her to read my post and tell me if she thought it was too personal. She didn't. She said it was fine.
I still worried. I couldn't sleep. Finally I got up at four a.m. and copied my EP onto the computer, with all of its amazing comments, and deleted it from OS. I wanted to ask someone what was the protocol on something like this...was it a no-no to delete it? (Now that I have been on OS for two years or so, I say, "Yes, it was a no-no, unless it was objectionable.") But then I didn't know. I probably will revisit the work, and do something I have never done before. Repost. It was valuable. And several of my friends have looked for it and couldn't find it, so I may try it again. Unless I change my mind.
I write for myself, for the other writers on OS, for the invisible audience that wants to know what it feels like to be human. To share humanity, to share sanity, and insanity with another person. To clarify the feelings and values that are swirling around in our heads like an Iowa winter fog, half ice crystal, half dew.
The caveat...to be compassionate and caring in my writing, enlightening without lightening strikes on personalities. I’m always reminded of the line from the eighties movie, “Short Circuit:”
“With friends like you, who needs enemas?”
Wishing you many fewer ‘enemas’ in the HAPPY NEW YEAR!