Blogging can become a powerful addiction. Especially on any platform with built-in social interaction, like Medium or like WordPress.com. Did these platforms plan it that way? And if so, why? Intentions good or evil?
Esmerelda (my angel-in-the-tree) whispers the answer to me/us: It’s always partly both.
What is ambition? Why does it exist?
I believe it exists because GUG (the Great Universal Goodness) wants us to create and evolve. Well, it doesn’t want, actually. GUG is creation and evolution. That is all.
I am blocked again.
Why? Because it’s terrifying to write for yourself, but then see the words mutate before your eyes, by the second sentence, into something on which you darned-well know, by the end of it, you are going to hit “Publish.”
Why does this happen? It’s a curious thing. I wrote about it here, in my “Zombie Apocalypse” post.
A “friend in writing” asked me what I’d meant by that post.
English is a second language for this friend, and though he masters it well, I can only imagine how confusing it was to read or translate, with all its hyphenated words and double-everythings. At the time I felt it explained itself. But my mind spirals in fractal metaphors, thriving in water and air, while I believe his is more rooted like a tree or tower to the earth.
But there I go again. I’m always being told it’s too much, too mixed, too hot, too wild. Quite right.
Anyway. Here is an attempted explanation.
What I meant by that post was that blogging had become an addiction, for me.
The first line “Dear God…” is taken from a prayer in the AA Big Book. That book, by the way, is a beautifully-written book, beautifully edited and curated, absolutely beautiful. Apparently, there are/were some fine alcoholic writers and editors out there. Who knew. ;)) The first part of this book, outlining the 12-step program, can and may be used, in my opinion, for curing any addiction. For example, the addiction of perfectionism, which I myself once had (or rather, am still recovering from, every single day).
That book is also very “old-school,” produced in 1939 — not long after the roaring twenties — the wild excesses in the face of alcohol prohibition — closely followed by America’s 20th-century-rock-bottom katzenjammer — the Great Depression — which makes the book all the more carefully and cleanly produced.
The book, having been produced in the time and place that it was, is also very masculine-themed and very Christian-language-based. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But for non-male and non-dogmatic folks of the modern age, it may be less interesting to read, especially for those without the knack for imagining their own words in place of anything that doesn’t work for them personally. Even though the book does clearly invite us on several occasions to do exactly that.
“Take what works and leave the rest.” This was something I first heard at a La Leche League meeting, when I was trying to learn how to get first my baby to the breast. The Leader would say that sentence at the beginning of each meeting/session, right after LLL dogmatic principles were introduced. That sentence (and a lot of what I learned from other mothers in LLL) helped me become the best mother, and reader, I can possibly be today.
But I digress.
So the first line of my “Zombie Apocalypse” piece was borrowed from a prayer in that book — the AA Big Book. The book tells addicts (of anything, in my own imaginative interpretation), to GIVE UP the idea of controlling our animalistic urges by using self-discipline or restraint, and instead open our minds to the idea of giving control of those urges over to whatever we perceive as “god.” And allowing “god” to take care of the rest. In order to do this, we must get very quiet, and very still, to connect with our inner life presence. Just like the Zen practitioners do, in meditation.
“God,” in the AA book, if I understand it correctly, is the creative, all-loving power. It is not a a dictator-type being that judges nor condemns nor excludes on the basis of race, religion or colour, nor even on the basis of past deeds. All is accepted and forgiven, if we only choose to give up self-control and ego, to this creative, non-destructive, power. So when we give ourselves to this power, we are essentially giving ourselves over to self-compassion, and love for the world.
In the morning, we recovering addicts (no matter what the drug of choice, even if that be perfectionism or blogging, even though the language in the book is geared primarily to alcoholics, perhaps because the abuse of alcohol is one of the greatest socially-acceptable enablers and destroyers of connection) are invited to repeat this prayer: “God, I offer myself to Thee, to do with me as Thou wilt…” (You see how the language is old-fashioned. But it is written with true reverence. P.63, under “Step Three.”)
So in the opening of that Zombie Apocalypse piece, which was not begun as a piece for the public eye, but rather for my own self, in my own diary, I write that same line, as I sometimes do, to get past perfectionism, and the fear of writing, and the fear of everything, in general.
However, choosing to be truthful, I instead say, on that particular day, “God, I don’t offer myself to you…” then telling it/her/him, truthfully, that first, I must purge my negative thoughts. (And that is because I don’t want those negative thoughts to end up public, as they seem to have become, of late.)
To clarify, the reason I specifically say I don’t offer myself to “god” at that moment is because recently I had been offering myself up to “god” — but with the intention to remain private with my writing, as I had done for years and years — but then — instead — miraculously — wonderfully — frighteningly — awfully — hitting “Publish,” at the end of it.
The reason I found myself regularly hitting “Publish” at the end of these privately-written prayer sessions, was because it often seemed to me that once I’d released myself to “god” (or what I have alternately nicknamed the Great Creative Power of the Universe [CPU], or various other, personalized re-brandings), I had written something quite a lot more insightful and inspired than when I hadn’t offered myself up to “god.” And so at the end of it I suddenly wanted to hit “Publish,” out of a genuine kind of true Love for the world.
But then, I noticed that something else was present as well, and often creeping up to be more and more dominating. Like the yin to the yang, the flip side of the coin, the dark to the bright, and any other metaphor for divine balance, there was always this “shadow” present, and if I allowed my old addiction of perfectionism to take control again, the Great CPU would disappear from view and I was lost, alone, seeking, hungering, yearning, craving. For perfection, validation, direction, materialistic desires for fame or fortune, or just about anything, really, to fill that “god-sized hole.”
“God-sized hole” — That is a term I believe I first heard in blogger Glennon Doyle (Melton)’s first book, Carry On, Warrior. I think I heard it there. Or maybe it was her second book, Love Warrior. Or maybe she quoted someone else. Maybe it was paraphrasing Blaise Pascal. I can’t remember.
See? That last paragraph is where I shall get completely lost, if I choose to forget “God.” “God” says, stay true, stay true, the details matter not, dear One. Just allow it all to fall into place and all will be well. Tell your truth, your Truth, my sweet baby, and worry not for the future nor the past. Nothing matters and nothing lasts, except you and me, together, now, now here, in this moment.
Thank you God.
God as in, GUG / GreatCPU / Esmerelda / Tiger / Mr.Willow / Buddhanature / Allah / Github / Ghost / Weebly / Medium / WordPress / DayOne / Scrivener / ViJournal (oh beloved, now-defunct ViJournal!), whatever.
Anyway. I ended that post explaining how my latest addiction — blogging — feels, which is a feeling that I think any of us addicted to blogging has felt.
And the post is entirely showing, not only telling, because I truly *began* that post with the intention to ONLY write for myself, and to NOT hit publish, and that is why I say, to “god,” in slightly different words, “this is not for you, this is not with you, this is not by you” (i.e. “I don’t offer myself to you”) — and then the odd thing is that just like always, perhaps in reward for my telling the truth, the Great CPU came through anyway, and walked the path with me, and then, the most beautiful thing is, she/he/it stayed with me, for once, right to the end, and helped me to NOT obsessively edit it (except perhaps to fix a typo here or there), NOT fuss over word-choice, finding a post image, make paragraph breaks, and all that; and instead just helped me to leave it pretty much exactly as it was. And then it/she/he helped me choose a title and tags for it, quickly, joyfully, with bright-dark speed, and hit “Publish.”
So at the almost very end, seeing what was about to happen, and listening to LIAV (what I call my Little Inner Answer Voice, again a.k.a. “god”), I try to make a clear reference to the fact that blogging, for me, at least, is an addiction, albeit perhaps a much more healthy one than some other addictions out there, and I make reference to that by saying, “everyone’s doing it, you should try it some time.” Because that is (approximately) the famous line from the eighties, in all those anti-drug-and-alcohol public service announcements that sort-of sometimes helped to protect us kids, but also sort-of sometimes helped us get curious about doing alcohol and drugs, back when we were in middle school/junior high/whenever. The kids in the advertisements/re-enactments are always shown exerting, or “being exerted by” something called “peer pressure” (a strange and un-relatable term, to my childish mind, back then) to smoke or do drugs or drink alcohol. And the classic hook line, in the public-service re-enactments was something along the lines of, “it’s really cool and everybody’s doing it. You should try it some time.”
So with that last line in the Zombie Apocalypse piece, I am attempting to give an ironic nod to the already-addicted bloggers out there, like me, and at the same time, attempting to ironically exert “peer pressure” on or to the uninitiated, would-be but-still-blocked writers out there — partly because I want to educate them to the possible dangers, and partly because I really do think (with my monkey-minded, animalistic core) that in the case of writing and blogging, it’s really cool, everybody’s doing it and you/they should try it sometime. “And here is the resulting product. Not half-bad, really,” I say to you/us/them, in the subtext, with a wink. Because I felt I had little to do with it, in the end.
Edit: Part of this post was originally written as a letter to a friend who’d commented on my “Zombie Apocalypse” post. I wrote it on 2018-12-12 and published it (briefly) the same day, but the friend responded in a way I perceived as negative, calling it “roaring at high volume.” He also said something in my writing, particularly the “25 things” piece, “ignited irritation” in him. It was honest commentary which ultimately strengthened my own resolve and resilience, but it hurt a fair bit at the time. I immediately unpublished this piece, feeling ashamed of it, and left it hidden for a long while. I’ve since removed the friend’s name and other more personal bits from the letter and I now (2019-02-18) re-publish it in case it is helpful to anyone.