Pulling my punches
My blog has been languishing lately, due to a combination of several forces. One is logistical: I've been working a lot, but without a set schedule, so it's been hard to establish a routine that will give me enough of the calm and reflective time I need to construct decent posts.
Some of it is ethical, for lack of a better way to describe it. As I mentioned before, now that I'm finally working in a law office I'm zooming up the learning curve and nearly daily gaining new insights into what it means to practice law. These are absolutely important lessons that belong in a story of the Great Change, but I hesitate in posting about them because I don't want to inadvertently divulge client confidences (very, very bad) or even inadvertently compromise the general interest of the firm (also bad, though not disbar-able necessarily). So at minimum I try to take some time to think over what I'm inclined to share, which is prudent, but what's been happening is that too much time ends up passing and I lose the original spark that would have allowed me to make an interesting post.
Another consideration is self-interested pragmatism. Part of the Great Change story is figuring out how *I* fit inside this profession. But these posts tend to be the more navel-gazing and moody posts. Potentially well-written and moody posts, absolutely legitimate (indeed, perhaps integral) posts as part of the Great Change story, but: I'm looking for a job. Even if I didn't have my blog on my resume I'd still have to operate under the assumption that an employer could find it. Which raises the direct concern of the impact that negativity can have on my chances. If you wouldn't express negativity in an interview, are you as a candidate well served if that negativity you held back is otherwise so exposed and available to the interviewer? Probably not. However, I do think there's something to be said for honesty as an author, which I think translates to honesty as a person. I don't think all negativity or candor is necessarily adverse to my interests, including these vocational ones. I don't think I have to falsely portray myself as some sort of Pollyanna for whom nothing is ever bad and who only ever has happy thoughts to share. Because that would be a lie, and everyone would know it. So I think there is a path to be hewn here, where honesty and candor can be expressed in a non-detrimental way, but it's a narrow path that must be traveled carefully. Hence the pulled punches and slower posting as I try to take that care.
And there's another consideration, which I'm not entirely sure how to describe, but for now I'll call "political." This has to do with a general sense that now that I'm out of law school, it's "game on." When you're a student, I think a lot can be forgiven. You're learning, everyone knows that, and while you may stumble onto some brilliant insights I think people are willing to grant mulligans if you at times veer down some wayward paths. But as a full-fledged capable, educated adult - now what you do is supposed to matter. You need to get it right.
To an extent these "political" considerations are connected to the job hunt. If I make assertions of personal belief that seem inconsistent with too many clients' interests, a firm may not want to hire me. But my larger concern is based on a longer view, because more than a job what I really want is influence in the world. If I'm going to make it better, then I need to have a voice that will be listened to. And that's where my hesitation lies now, because I see myself crafting with my writing my (for lack of a better term) political persona. And that's a tricky thing to do. I think my actual political persona is a good one: idealistic but open-minded, tenacious but thoughtful, etc. Like I'm sure many people's are, it's an effective mélange of seemingly paradoxical qualities that aren't actually so paradoxical when put into play. But a specific writing inherently captures only a single glimpse of this personality, so over the span of many writings it may seem like there's a lot of inconsistency or hypocrisy based upon these potentially conflicting and incomplete glimpses. Over many, many writings a more complete and accurate picture of the author might be gleaned, certainly, but as an author you can't count on a reader to take that much trouble to be such a student of your work. Each writing really needs to be able to stand on its own as a reasonably accurate (if not oversimplified) representation of the writer. This is especially important because it's so easy to have certain writings be so prominent in the attention they receive that you end up being forever labeled by them. Or, even worse, because it's so easy to have certain writings be misinterpreted, meaning that not only do you become labeled by them, but you get labeled incorrectly.
This prospect to me is very scary, as there's a limit to how brilliantly I could possibly write to forestall such mislabeling from happening. Even the most brilliant writers have readers who miss the point, even of their most meticulously-written and edited tomes. And I'm not writing novels; I'm a developing writer writing quickly-written blog posts. The odds that something may go wrong in trying to transmit my thoughts from my head to my readers' is really quite high. And that may be the biggest reason why I've been posting so scantly lately.
So what to do? Well, initially there is the "muddle forth" approach that has served me in good stead before. At some point my schedule will stabilize, but in the meantime I'll do the best I can with it. While this may sound odd, given the other important priorities in my life, I do need to make more of an effort to write. When I don't write, I start to fear writing as it always starts to appear more and more as some looming laborious chore I can't even begin to surmount. When I do write, though, I remember that I like writing and it helps stoke my confidence in all the writing I need to do (cover letters, anyone?). Watching my words slide off my brain and onto the page makes me feel like a potent master of language, something I'll need to be if I'm going to get done all the things in life I want to get done.
Still, I'm not sure how quickly I'll be able to churn out the meaty posts given the other concerns mentioned above. Thus there may be more "cheese" around here as I just play around with language and try to keep readers reasonably entertained. I hate having long gaps between posts. Not only do I feel worried that the people who came to read yet found nothing new won't ever come back, but I also feel guilty, like I've let people down. I really like the idea that people enjoy my writing; it pleases me in a way I didn't know I could be pleased until I started doing it. So I hate, hate, hate not offering people that pleasure when they come by to read me, and hope that I can at least offer readers small tidbits in the meantime so that they don't feel like they were wasting their time by visiting.
And eventually - probably sometime within the next few months - I will break from this blog and go to the next. I am committed to telling the Great Change story, and there is clearly more to tell of it, but I'm also beginning to regard it as something of a shackle that I'd like to break free of. This whole "becoming a lawyer" thing is a skin that's becoming a little too tight. I'm due for a molting... and can't wait to try out my brand new grown-up lawyer body. As well as write in a way that reflects that new stature. So I will find an appropriate moment to make that change in both personal and blog identity, although it won't be quite yet.