9:02 am - Mon 5/24/04
I've suggested in here, more than once, that I am a profoundly self-involved person.
But lately, I've been thinking about how when I try to take an interest in other people, it doesn't seem to pan out.
For example: I follow eight other online journals, or blogs, or whatever you want to call them.
Six of the people I know, or have known, in real life. There are people I've met through the internet, people from back home in Michigan, and someone I used to work with at the bookstore here in L.A.
(Last night, I exchanged online journal info with a new girl at work. I haven't checked hers out yet, and am a little nervous about what she'll think of this, but it was a novel "getting to know you" conversation.)
Anyway, it's become part of my daily routine, to check these journals out.
(Actually, it's become a bit more than "a daily routine"; I check each journal I follow a couple times a day. I'm a little obsessive about it, cause I get bored and I don't want to miss anything.)
Now, nobody updates as much as I do, and I can understand that--people have lives, after all--but most of the people I follow update so infrequently, you want to write them and say "Why do you even bother?".
And I have occasionally ragged on people about how rarely they update, but that's really not kosher; It's their journal, after all, and they can update as much (or as little) as they see fit.
It's just disappointing--Here I am, craving this window into other people's worlds, wishing to get outside of myself and see how other people go about their lives, and you'd think the perfect place to get that fix would be through other people's online journals. After all, this isn't me being nosy or intrusive. I didn't make them go online; they chose to put their ongoing adventures "out there" for public consumption. And it seems like a perfect arrangement--"You want to write about yourself, and I want to read about you"--but it turns out they don't really want to write about themselves all that much.
Interestingly, the lamest journalers have been three very talented writers. I think they would be fascinating to read...if they'd only actually write something. But I'm guessing they don't think of this as real "writing"--and feel like it's a waste of time.
(In one case, I think the person involved is anxious to express himself personally--he's taken a couple stabs at online journaling now--but just needs the cover of fiction to do it.)
But anyway, I'm thinking it may be time to clean house. The disappointment I feel over this issue is far outweighing any "enjoyment" or "enlightenment", or whatever the hell I was getting out it at one point. These journals may be a "window into other people's lives", but the blinds still seem to be closed most of the time
(You know, maybe profound self-involvement isn't so bad...)
Another thing maybe falls more under the heading of "Pet Peeve"; It's really started to bother me when I ask people "What's going on?", and I actually want to know what's going on, and all I get is a "Not much" or "Same old, same old" kind of response.
And I get that a lot.
"Come on!", I want to say. "I'm trying to take an interest here! Throw me a friggin' bone, why dontcha?"
Well, this is bumming me out, so I think I'm gonna move on...
Thinking about my own journal lately...
Read a very interesting acting book recently called How To Stop Acting, by Harold Guskin (Acting coach to Kevin Cline, Glenn Close, and James Gandolfini, amongst others).
From the back cover:
Guskin offers a strategy based on a radically simple and refreshing idea: that the actor's work is not to "create a character" but rather to be continually, personally responsive to the text, wherever his impulse takes him, from first read-through to final performance....Guskin presents acting as a constantly evolving exploration rather than as a progression towards a fixed goal.
If any actors are reading this, I heartily recommend the book (And I'll be writing more about how it struck me as an "Actor" in an upcoming entry). To me, what Guskin describes is what acting is supposed to be. It's the kind of actor I want to be, in any case.
But the part of what he said that I connected with journal writing as well as with acting had to do with overcoming fear.
The centerpiece of Guskin's "method" is preparation that involves "taking the lines off the page" a line at a time, letting your inner response to the line, whatever it might be, emerge without criticism or censorship (Basically, instead of imposing your will on the lines, you let an exhaustive study of the lines impose their will on you).
There's more to it--Otherwise, it would have been a pamphlet instead of a book--but that gives you an idea of what he's going for.
To really do that--to "go where the lines take you", basically--involves overcoming a lot of fear.
It's hard to risk looking foolish, to look like you don't know what you're doing, to risk people not understanding, or not approving.
It's tough to feel like you're venturing out on a tightrope with no net.
But that's what artists do.
And there must be something to all this, because this "overcoming fear" business has been in my thoughts for a very long time now: I feel that if I could just let go of my fear--Of looking stupid, of people not liking me, etc--I might become the actor, the journaler, maybe even the writer, I've imagined I could be.
And I think "overcoming fear" is particularly challenging with a journal, especially an online journal, because there's really nowhere to hide. You aren't "playing a character" or "writing fiction"; the whole point is to get as much of "the real you" across as you can.
It's a process, an "ongoing exploration", if you will.
I think the danger in me writing about this stuff is that my expectations will be too high, that now that I have a strong sense of at least one thing I need to do to be a better actor/journaler/someday writer, I'll expect to instantly "overcome my fears", then get pissed off at myself any time I feel like I'm "hedging".
That won't help.
The point is just to "keep it in mind", to always be moving in that direction. I'm not going to get anywhere I want to go--In acting, writing, or in life--by giving in to fear.
Well, right now I'm going to give in to my fear of droning on too long and boring everyone to death...
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