Monday, July 6, 2009

Howling At The Moon

Yes. Another blog about blogging. This one with more bleayatching power & new management!

When I was in grad school, I took some Education courses thinking I would hedge my bets & possibly teach in high school. (Still hedging that bet-- but that's another story another time). A fellow student & I talked about the tendency in Ed classes to talk about oneself ad nauseum. She called it "howling at the moon". It doesn't really happen so much in English grad classes-- I doubt it does in, say, Engineering or Accounting, either. It reminds me of those commercials for the Bing search engine where people are repeating random unrelated trivia without communicating-- it's kind of talking without hearing and can be a little on the insane side, I think.

I think blogging tends to reinforce a kind of howling at the moon mentality. And this is by no means a ploy to get people to comment on here, so don't feel obligated to do so. I hardly ever comment on the blogs I regularly read anymore... if I can't click a Facebook "thumbs up" and move on it just is too much time commitment. ;)

But if you're writing about stuff without feedback, I think you tend to talk talk talk & I've always been the one who exceeded the page limit on papers. I'm not immune to writing way too much about too little and blathering on about myself for hours & hours. Navel gazing.

I use metaphor & example a lot in teaching too, but I see on other faculty's "ratemyprofessors" that some students really hate it. What we think of as a teaching tool "see, I write too.. I have this problem in my writing too and I'm more experienced in writing than you are so don't feel bad" becomes something students think is unrelated to them and boring. So far, I haven't gotten the "always talks about herself" complaint from any of my students, but it may just be that I'm still young enough to be interesting still to them, and that will change in time. So it's important, when we write about ourselves all the time, to not be too much into the "me me me" moments.

I write this blog mostly for myself, and for my mother & Andrew's mom to see news about the kiddos. Sometimes I use it as a dumping ground for poems I've been working on, themes that are circulating in my head. I don't really blog about politics or current events much. It is about me. It's a journal, of sorts. But it's not ALL of me. It's not the only thing going on in my life, it's also not very deep. It's also not going to be something super duper important. If I just had an earth-shattering moment, there might be a vague poem about it but doubtfully a real explanation. So if I seem shallow on here, or "howling at the moon" it's because I'm not good at nature blogging like some blogs I love, or funny like others. I don't like to post my "real" writing, when I do it, here, because I have a fear of someone stealing everything (not that I think I'm that good, but neither are some of the other blogs I've seen plagiarized.)

What I suggest if it seems like I'm howling loudly about myself is twofold:

Join my conversation & comment (ah, I lied. Apparently this is a plug for comments. Damn.) OR howl at your own moon & direct me there. I'll read it... I may join in and howl a little bit, too. But mostly it's just a thought I'm working out. I could make this all private and anonymous but then I'm talking to myself even worse, and I might get twitchy and weird(er).


Rhonda said...

You know, I ended up abandoning my blog because I was dealing with so many audiences and purposes. I started it for my family and friends, so that they could get reports and photos from Austria when we moved there. While I was there, writing my final draft of my dissertation, I started reading academic blogs, and writing my own academic/professional posts for that community. So I had two very important but very different purposes for writing.

Then I had a baby, and I started writing (and reading) "mommy stuff." And I started my first tt job, which made me less comfortable writing about professional stuff, especially as I wasn't pseudonymous.

So much of the blog was stuff that only 1/3 or 1/2 of my usual readers would care about. And then it was weird when my father-in-law, for example, would comment on one of my academic/professional posts. So I just gave up. I think I would like to start a new professional/academic blog, but I don't know.

I couldn't have made it through my dissertation and job search without the incredible community of bloggers I read (and still read). But I hardly ever comment anymore; in fact, I rarely click through from Google Reader. I think you're right about it moving to Facebook and Twitter. That's where I keep up now, and it seems easier, in ways, to juggle the multiple audiences on FB, although there are certainly tensions there. I keep my Twitter feed locked and only allow followers who will not be alarmed by my rants about students and work, which allows me to blow off the steam I can't let out on FB.

I don't know that this long and rambling comment addresses your post, exactly, but it's where your post sent me!

Anonymous said...

it's a shame you think people will plagiarize your stuff; they won't; especially if you copyright your blog (see mine, click on icon and get yours to put on here). would like to see more of your prose or poetry; perhaps start another site (invite only?) for your fiction. i enjoy those pieces.