Have you watched Bad Writing yet? I watched it on my phone over a couple of days recently (I think I may have missed some of the “big screen” nuances, but I was impatient) and there’s a scene where Vernon is talking with Brenda Shaughnessy about social media. She makes a comment about how Vernon’s Facebook status updates are maybe poems he could have written. She was hypothesizing, but I’ve been thinking about it for a few days and she feels right on, at least for me.
When I go to FB and post pictures and share links and write blurbs, I’m expressing myself, right? I could have written an essay, or a poem (or a blog post), but instead I logged in and blurbed what I was thinking after little more than a moment or two of thought. And then, later, when I sat down to write… what was left to say? A lot probably, but after it’s out there (here or facebook or twitter or instagram or pinterest), it becomes something that exists in relation to an audience. Not something I am still shaping, still thinking about and around.
I could write about cooking for one with recipes for four and freezing everything so I don’t have to do the math. I could write about what it feels like to pull a rotten baby bird’s heart out with forceps, or about how terrified I feel, just being a woman sometimes, what with the rape culture and the beauty culture and the worldwide war on women. I could write about what it means to redefine yourself over and over and over. But you know, why write, when a link or a carefully tinted cell phone pic will do?
These spaces/places/boards/walls fulfill a need that writing is supposed to fulfill. Now, I am not about to go on some pandering tangent about how I am shutting down my myspace page (FOR REAL THIS TIME YOU GUYS), but I am going to be instituting some stricter limits on myself (maybe not as strict as a member of my cohort, Erin Fortenberry, who is VERY disciplined and only logs in for an hour a week, but stricter). At least until I have a book’s worth of writing that I love.