i guess that makes me an old (blogging) woman

Back in the day, I used to write a lot of really personal things on this site. I would talk about how I felt about everything–my job, my friends, my relationships–and for the most part I felt safe doing that without fear that anything bad would happen as a result. As I’m sure you can tell, that’s changed quite a bit. I’m older now, and my interest in things like job security and my friends’ privacy and my own privacy has trumped my desire to write freely and publicly online.


While I’m satisfied with my decision to hold more things back on bluishorange, my desire to write freely online (even if it can’t be public) hasn’t changed. To that end, I set up a friends-only LiveJournal page, where I can talk about work and relationships and all the things I can’t talk about here, and only the people I want to read it can read it.

I’ve had my friends-only LiveJournal for less than a week, and I’ve already posted on it five times. Five times! That’s more than I post on bluishorange in a month! The knowledge that what I write won’t be publicly available has opened a writing floodgate, and everything I wish I could still write here has come pouring out over there. I love it.

In that way, my private LiveJournal feels like bluishorange used to feel–it’s a place where I can write about whatever I want, and my friends will read it and leave comments about it. And that’s the other thing that’s happened: the LiveJournal comments feel like old-school bluishorange, too. My friends leave comments, and I respond, and then someone else responds, and a discussion evolves.

Matt Haughey posted about how the comments on current blogs don’t have a living-room feel like they used to, and I know exactly what he’s talking about. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed all my old comments until my private LiveJournal came along.

Wednesday night I had dinner with my sister, and then she came over for a bit. After she left, I went straight to my LiveJournal and wrote this:

When I was a kid, my mother always told me that I’d appreciate my little sister when I got older. Maybe I didn’t like her now–she was always chewing with her mouth open, taking up space in the bathroom, and weighing in on my teen years in a derogatory fashion–but I’d like her when we were grown up. I didn’t believe her at ALL. There was no way I was ever going to like Megan. She got mad when I ate all the jelly beans and she made fun of me when I took too much time in the bathroom and she was always trying to watch TV when I wanted to watch TV and it didn’t matter that we wanted to watch the same things because she was annoying me just sitting there on the other couch and I could HEAR HER BREATHING and dammit, why couldn’t I be an only child?

But of course my mother was right, and now that I’m 30 you couldn’t pay me to be an only child. If I were an only child, who would I compare notes with on what our parents were like when we were kids? Who would laugh at all my jokes? Who would listen to whatever bullshit I was talking about (no matter how much wine I had with dinner) and tell me about everything she was going through, no matter if either one of us made sense or not? Who would remember what we were talking about before I segued awkwardly into a dumb story about my dog’s teeth, and then bring up the fact that before we were talking about my dog’s teeth, she was telling me about her internship in Houston, and then I can say, oh, yeah, you were saying that your boss said [this] and then you said [this] and I can definitely see why you felt that way, tell me more?

Yeah, there’s nobody like that.

I cannot think of a better way to spend a Wednesday night than having sushi and wine with Megan. Screw you for going to Brazil for two months, Megan! Who’s going to be my sister while you’re gone? If you don’t move back to Austin when you get back I’m going to disown you.

My friend Peter left a comment that said:

Now you’re beginning to cross over to posts you could probably post on your blog with little or no revision. Welcome to the slippery slope that is LiveJournal.

He’s totally right. What’s happening here is this: I feel really comfortable writing on my LiveJournal, so it’s making me want to write more, and so I do; I write about whatever I feel like saying whether it needs to be kept private or not. And then the LiveJournal becomes less about privacy and more about audience, or general effort-making, or the value of non-editing, or something. I’ll have to think more about this.

Update: It’s probably about the value of not trying too hard.

7 thoughts on “i guess that makes me an old (blogging) woman

  1. I’m a big fan of having two writing outlets because they’re both very valuable. On the one hand, having a private forum like Livejournal (or just a paper journal, which is what I use) helps you get all those initial feelings or impressions out, no matter how sloppy or contradictory they sound, and you get to work things out without being harshly judged–at worst, your critics are your closest friends. But if you take writing seriously, I like to think of that as a stepping off point for your public blog, which tends to be more polished and yes, generally less open about details. If you’re good at it (and you are), leaving out the specifics actually makes the story more relatable to more people.

    It may also depend on where you are in your own writing trajectory. After six years of public blogging, I jumped ship to a private Livejournal, and enjoyed how much I heard from friends, how little I edited myself, how open I could be about my first year of college without needing to put it in some kind of Greater Scheme of Things I always felt pinned to. I kept it for about eight months, and then felt ready again to go back to my own website. I don’t post as often, about as much, or hear from as many people, but for what I like to do write now, I prefer it. Who knows, that may change in the next year.

    (And by being a stranger, I may have just proved your point about the comments you receive being less personal. But I hope that’s okay. :))

  2. I think you’ve hit the nail exactly with the value of non-editing and/or not trying too hard.

    LiveJournal – both by virtue of having “journal” in its name and through our longtime associations with it as domain-based bloggers – does not feel as though it requires our careful attention. We can toss off thoughts that aren’t full developed, or that don’t have a careful constructed introduction and conclusion, or that simply don’t *feel* compelling.

    You know, just like we did on our blogs in 2000.

    Plus, a reliable, predictable audience will read and respond to our callouts. And, we don’t have to develop PHP and install new features ever again. Not to mention that on a social network our comments are still meaningful occasions connected to a centralized identity, not entries into a “black hole,” as. BradSucks says in his comment on Matt H’s post:


    LiveJournal is a gated community, especially if you friends-lock all of your posts. Some of your longtime readers will not follow you there, and you can’t connections within the community unless you make a point of meeting people in the comments of others’ posts and becoming mutual friends. It’s really just another social network where your audience is captive and expands slowly and only by degrees.

    Also, you don’t own or control your own content – your layout is only so flexible, and your rights to your own words are governed by your user agreement with a dubious Russian conglomerate that might be selling Дробильно кризис and Голубовато оранжевый chapbooks on the streets, for all we know.

    And, how do we know that LJ – twitter or tumblr or any other blog substitute – won’t eventually go under, taking a life of content with it … scribble.nu, anyone? And, unlike early past proto-blog experiments, we won’t even be able to even unearth our lost content with Archive.org because access was based on social networking permissions.

    I struggle with all of this constantly. Are BO and CK just unwieldy vanity projects read by few and appreciated by fewer, whereas posting those same things on LJ or FaceBook or MySpace would at least mean they were being read by a small crowd whose opinions we trust?

    And, more to the point, hasn’t it been exciting to actually *talk* to each other this week on LJ, instead of playing a inconsistent game of comment tag over the course of many months?


    Yet, if we just spent the year doing just that, would we only know about the minutia of each other’s lives without appreciating the high-level, gestalt view provided by our blogs? Would we be familiar with many of each other’s trees, but know nothing about our respective forests?

    I don’t know.

    I think Rabi navigates the divide the best by openly maintaining both as vehicles for her voice but making the distinction in their content quite clear. Even if I wish she would post on WJ about twice as much as she actually does, she rarely sacrifices a post to LJ if it would be appropriate for WJ. Her pen stays flowing, and both worlds benefit.

    I hope you can strike that same balance, as I’d happily consume a daily dose of both of your worlds of words.

  3. Re this: And, how do we know that LJ – twitter or tumblr or any other blog substitute – won’t eventually go under, taking a life of content with it … scribble.nu, anyone? And, unlike early past proto-blog experiments, we won’t even be able to even unearth our lost content with Archive.org because access was based on social networking permissions.

    I give you this: http://ljbackup.yamnet.co.uk/

  4. After reading this, I realized I’d been reading bluishorange for about 6 years. In fact, Alison, your blog is what really led me to want to have a go at it myself.

    I think having multiple outlets for yourself is a good thing, but I hate to feel that the only outlet of yours I’m able to access is the one getting the short stick. Nonetheless, blogging is a very different beast than it was when I started reading your site. (The train layout was being used at that point and you were still using Blogger. ha!)

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  6. I totally understand the need to have a public and private outlet like that. I keep a Vox account as my friends-only site, and sometimes I go for ages without posting there. But I will probably always have it for those times when a select audience is what I seek.

    Oh, and word on that living-room observation.

  7. I wonder if it could be that new blogs recapitulate the history of blogging, in the sense that they start small, with a core, often invited, audience of family and friends, who are so happy to hear what’s going on with the blogger that they comment generously and often. And when a new person happens along, the core readers are interested in who that person is, and they go look at her blog, and it still has some of the living-room feel.

    I started blogging about 6 months ago, though I’ve been reading blogs for-evuh, and I’ve found this to be the case. It could also be about the niche–different comment culture in different corners of the web. Anyway, great post and thanks for the Haughey link.

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