I’d Buy That For a Dollar

[To understand this entry, you must first read this entry. I originally posted this on my own blog, so keep in mind that it’s written from that perspective.]

My dad—briefly discussed in my entry I’m Not Counterculture beneath an excellent photo of Allen Ginsberg—happened to visit my blog Thursday afternoon. He mentioned this when he called at 7pm Thursday night and criticized the entry. He felt it was too personal for the Internet, and that by the end it became muddled and confusing. I thought about what he said all night.

What is writing—fiction or non-fiction, blog entry or not—without confession and revelation? I don’t necessarily mean confessions of past trauma, e.g. A CHILD CALLED IT or A MAN CALLED DAVE. I mean saying, ‘This is what I think about and who I am.’ Should I be a drone and JUST link to other sites, expressing myself by proxy, or should I be explicit? If a piece of writing isn’t to some extent personal, then I believe it’s merit-less, processed like SPIDER-MAN 3 through a billion people and corrupted by financial interests. Processed cheese, inorganic and cow pus-filled.

Does self-expression make me vulnerable? Yes, but that’s fine. Better vulnerability than artificiality. Allowing yourself some vulnerability is a sign of strength, not weakness. The entry wasn’t too personal. I wrote, “In comparison to them, I felt like nothing,” but in my conclusion I wrote I felt solid, and so strong, my vulnerability in the past, replaced by something else. This makes me worry. If my dad thought ‘Not Counterculture’ was too personal, what will he think of the book I’ve written, and those I hope to write? Is too personal writing acceptable in a book, but not on the Internet? What makes the Internet different? I don’t feel it is.

I’m saying obvious things here, so here’s what I consider the real answer.

He felt the entry was too personal because it was flawed, and the flaws were obvious. Its third paragraph becomes confusing and less coherent than the other two. But really, it’s just a blog entry, written hastily, probably only skimmed. [1] If its meaning got through, it succeeded. Ya dig. Still, I posted said entry on the esteemed Return of the Relucant, a literary blog where I’ve acted as co-guest-blogger for the past two weeks. Is it about context? Would my dad still criticize if the entry were only here, instead of here AND there? Was the entry too personal in his opinion because its flaws were so evident? Is an impersonal entry airtight & flawless?

[1] This is a lie. I don’t write hastily at all. I wish I could.


  1. Patrick, I just left you a comment over at your place, but wanted to say something here as well. I guess the crux is that everyone who writes – notoriously, including writers of fiction – has this same problem. It’s a painful balancing act. And your post wasn;t in any way derogatory, was it, it’s lnot like you were writing about some drug addict relative and how they wrecked the family’s life! I hope your dad is fine with it now.

  2. I don’t think the post reflected poorly on anyone, for what it’s worth. I know that putting anything remotely personal on the internet is a scary thing for a lot of people. I’m not one of those people either – I agree, a bit of personal flavor or a lot of it makes for a better read.

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