I’ve been a fan of biography and autobiography for as long as I have been able to read.
My favourite childhood books were about quirky people. Or philosophizing bears. Ok, maybe Winnie-the-Pooh is not exactly biography in the established mode. But Christopher Robin does say that Pooh likes to hear stories about himself, and this is how we get to hear the stories: we overhear Christopher Robin asking for a story about Pooh since (as has been established) Pooh is the sort of bear who likes to hear stories about himself.
Actually, we first meet Winnie-the-Pooh when Christopher Robin pulls him bump bump bump down the stairs, and Pooh thinks that there really must be another way to do this but he cannot think of what it might be while he is in the midst of bumping along down the stairs. This is an experience I can relate to. Not that anyone ever pulled me down the stairs, but there have been many times when I felt “there must be another way to do this” but I was so busy with the doing of whatever it was that I didn’t have the mental space to figure out what that other way might be.
Over the years, journalling has provided me with some opportunity to create mental space. Blurting everything onto the paper and then stepping back to read my own ramblings can be an opportunity to overhear my own mind. I admit, though, that I’m a sporadic journal writer. I’ll be devoted for three months and then ignore it for six.
Reading other people’s writing also provides an opportunity of sorts. I remember the first time I read Virgina Woolf’s diaries. Or Taslima Nasrin’s story of her Bengali girlhood (Meyebela). An entirely new way of thinking about life (and writing) opened up to me.
Reading someone else’s contemplation of the bump bump bump of life stimulates my own reflective process. Have I been in similar situations? What did I do? What would I do if I found myself in that other context?
I’ve been lurking on the internet and the blog world for several years now. I like the sense of getting to overhear someone’s thought process. But that wasn’t enough to convince me to participate.
What got me interested in the world of blogs was the possibility that it might be a community of sorts. What drew me into face-to-face, real-time community, was the experience of being heard by real people who listened carefully and compassionately and shared some of their own experiences. We all learned from each other.
Somewhere along the way, as I was reading blogs, I realized that I was just as interested in the comments and responses. And that some of those people who were responding recognized each other or were recognized by the blog writer. Aha, community. But what sort of community? How is it different from face-to-face? Are there things that happen better online?
So here I am, motivated to start my own blog and share some of my experience, wondering who I will meet and what we will discover along the way.