I really like this article – Present Tense
First, it talks about Hyperbole and a Half, which is my favoritest blog EVER. But the author is correct in saying that there’s something unsettling about reading people’s thoughts while they are truly right in the middle of whatever it is that they’re describing.
We’re more accustomed as readers to the memoir model, where depression — or addiction, or even ordinary anxiety [or infertility] — appears as a monster from the past, one against which you still have to bolt the door every day, but one that’s not there right now, not interfering with your writing about it, not writing about it with you….It’s very sterile and very misleading to hear about battles only from people who either have already won or at least have already experienced the stability of intermediate victories. It presents a false sense of how hard those battles are. It understates the perilous sense of being in the middle of them. It understates how scary they are…
Obvious, it makes me think of infertility and of my blog. And of your blogs. How we are all right in the middle of this and it’s huge and it’s scary and we don’t have the luxury of knowing how it it’ll turn out. But it’s also powerful. It’s real. It’s honest and raw. I’m proud of myself, and proud of all of you, for sharing your thoughts, your experiences, your pain, your victories – your JOURNEY.
So true! Allie Brosh’s posts on depression had me crying, nodding, and laughing all at once, as do many of the ALI blogs I read. Any writing that can do all of those things is about as powerful as it gets.
Did you hear her interview on Fresh Air the other day? If not, here it is:
Awesome – Thanks!!
Blog is AMAZING. What a great Saturday morning discovery! I’m still digesting the NPR piece, but I’ll just say that when I reread my own stuff it all sounds so stupidly melodramatic to me and I want to delete the whole damn thing. And that’s all in spite of endeavoring really faithfully to create something raw and real. But that really puts it into perspective: most of the narratives I’ve read in the true story/life’s challenges category come from a voice that’s standing on the other side already, removed, safe, the story of a monster already shrunken by way of perspective. I think of Night, the Holocaust memoir, which is moving and horrifying, yes, but the tone does at times border or “sterile.” I couldn’t imagine how that story would shift if he had been capable of writing while “in it,” maybe even too much to bear as a reader. Blogging (especially about crisis) is all in medias res, so the monsters feel as big as they sound. Thanks, great share.
Thank you for posting this. It’s an important distinction. The is and the was.
I often feel embarrassed or even (weirdly) guilty about posting in-the-middle-of-it rawness, as if I am responsible for how it will affect readers, will it bring them down, make them feel hopeless, or something along those lines—when no one is being forced to read it and can choose not to.
And the responses we usually get are only grateful, thanking us for basically normalizing terror, rage, clinical depression, grief.
The way we feel while currently in battle with the monster, looking straight into its lethal eyes, with no certainty that we will ever get away—that’s not memoir. That writing through and with luck out of, the firing of our amygdalas.
Fight or flight in black and white…
Maybe that should be a blog name.