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Friday, February 25, 2005


2 days

This week I had the experience of finding out exactly what someone thinks about this blog. He thinks there's a lot of missed potential, that I'm cliched, naive, a bit too much like a high school writer, that I'm trying too hard to sound literary. That I'm self-focused, but not self-aware.

He and I are very different people. I would never write someone an email like the one he wrote me. I wrote an email to a friend once in college and she said, "Amanda, in your attempt to be brutally honest, you were simply brutal." That is how I felt when I read his criticism. I know he was trying to be useful - that his email was a product of the fact that he cares. But still, for 2 days, I have avoided writing, because I feel judged, and feeling judged makes me self-conscious (not that surprising).

Maybe I haven't been clear enough about what I'm trying to do here. This blog is about process, not product. It's about faith in the act of expression as a form of communion with the world. It's about having the freedom to improvise: these are not carefully polished essays. I am not trying to be profound, or to prove what a good writer I am. I *am* trying to be honest, and the fact that he thinks my voice is inauthentic is probably what hurt most of all.

As I said last week, to me this is about raw footage...you let the camera follow what interests you about your subject. Maybe you thought you were making a movie about a singer, but then you realize the singer is also the father of a child with down's syndrome, so you follow that storyline instead, and that leads you to discover the family across town whose child also has down's syndrome and how they're working with the medical community to find a cure. I hear documentary filmmaker after documentary filmmaker describe their process this way. Maybe the final film is about the original man you were following, or his famly, or maybe it's about both families, or maybe it's about the heroic doctor... the story could be told in almost endless ways. You trust your instincts and get as much footage as you can and then one day it comes time to edit, and you make some choices about which story you feel the most conviction to tell.

I am searching for so many answers in my life that I feel much more like the cameraman than the editor at this point. But I'm only giving you limited access to the footage. I am not writing about work, which is one of the main stories of my life, out of concern for my career. I am not writing about private feelings - personal ones, yes, but I maintain a line. When I feel depressed, I write about it in my personal journal, not here.

Maybe partial, raw footage is ultimately not that interesting. I guess that's a matter of taste, and a matter of how interested you are in the subject. I am by no means the most fascinating person, but as I try to figure out my place in this world, I have to believe that putting myself out there is going to lead to more than holing up in my private world. Until I find a better way, this is all I've got.

Hi! I came across your blog, and living in D.C. myself, decided to subscribe to your feed . . .

In my opinion, being highly critical of blogs is fundamentally counter-productive, since they're a log, a release of thoughts, not necessarily a finished product. That has value in and of itself; obviously, this critic of yours disagrees.

I enjoy reading your thoughts. Keep up the good work.
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