Sunday, 3 June 2012

What to say, what not to say

Recently someone pointed out to me the possibility that I might be causing myself problems with this blog. Specifically that as my career as a writer goes forward someone may find it, causing all my various opinions to bite me in the arse. That writing I've put here, even as a throwaway aside, might come to define me and my future career in a way I hadn't intended. Honestly I had vaguely considered this idea, but not to this extent and I dismissed it without much thought. Still I'm always keen to take on criticism so, I thought, what better way to deal with this than by taking it on directly, right here.

My instinctive reaction to being challenged on this was to reject the idea. That, if some of my opinions put someone off then they simply aren't one of my readers. I enjoy writers who think deeply about controversial issues, I have a huge respect for them and that is the kind of writer I would like to be. It feels antithetical to me to self censor if you want to produce work which actually deals with subjects of any importance.
However, there is something I noticed after I had this reaction. Specifically that it came from a deep gut place which I have come to distrust. That's not to say that my gut is wrong, but that when I have such a strong reaction it normally indicates that, while this is an area where I have quite strong feelings, I also probably haven't thought about it enough for my opinion to be of much worth. That same instinctive sense of right has obstructed me from considering this issue in a more reasoned fashion.
Normally my response on finding such powerful emotions is to, with great care, put those feelings aside and make a concerted attempt (through reading and discussion) to come to a more methodical and reasoned judgement. Then I subsequently try to resolve that judgement with my emotions until I can, hopefully, coalesce these into a more rounded conclusion. In this case though, I'm reticent to do that, because this particular deep well of emotion is clearly linked to my feelings about writing, my respect for writers and my desire to be one of them. I don't want to delve too much into the architecture behind that desire for fear that I might, in doing so, undermine it. That might sound silly, but I feel that there is something inherently irrational in a desire to write. I don't want to challenge it because I recognise that it might collapse under that challenge and, really, well thought out or not, I enjoy the result of those emotions.

This is all well and good, but all I've really said so far about this problem is that, for the sake of my writing, I am prepared to ignore it. I don't think that qualifies as an answer to a question which really deserves one. After all, it is all very well to say that my readers, whoever they end up being, will need to reconcile themselves with my views on religion. However what will more likely happen is that some throwaway comment will, when taken out of context, make me sound like a massive bigot of some sort or other. Whatever other things my writing says, a slip up like that could effectively end up ruining my career before it's even begun (obviously that's assuming I achieve the level of fame such that somebody cares what I think, but let's throw some optimism in with our pessimism here). Clearly then, while I could simply ignore this problem, I probably shouldn't.

This leaves me wanting to preserve the purity of my writing while at the same time avoiding any career ruining mishaps. Honestly I want to keep this blog going, I enjoy having an excuse to think deep thoughts (and somehow, whether it's being reading it or not, I like the fact that anyone could read those thoughts and be influenced by them). Sadly, there I haven't found some grand solution. As it turned out, after some investigating (feel free to point out how wrong I am), it seems it isn't possible to link my name to this blog. In effect, this is anonymous. I'm a little irked by that, I wanted this to be about me putting myself out there and if I'm hidden then I'm doing that in a more limited way, but I think it's a compromise which I'm happy to accept for now.

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