Blog 2.0: To Blog or Not to Blog

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Hello everyone, as some of you may have noticed, I had to rebuild this website, and in the process of doing so, I’ve taken down the old blog. It’s sitting in a private WordPress archive, all eight years (2008-2016) of talking to myself and to some of you, about teaching, reading, writing, revising, and about “the industry.”

Prior to this, I kept a Blogger blog from 2004 to 2007. All of my blogs, pretty much cumulatively un-curated and super high volume. Perhaps some of it could be useful to folks other than myself. Published poems, essays, and book reviews came from my blog posts. Clarifying my ideas about syllabus creation and teaching, talking myself through manuscript revisions and submissions happened there. So yes, blogging was very productive for me.

Does anyone blog anymore? Do we lose anything, as we move away from this media, in favor of the intense, frequent, short, forgettable blasts of Facebook and Twitter? Or when we as writers move to Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, et al.

Or am I over-dramatizing? Perhaps this social media “long format” is no longer of use to most folks. I do know that what I wrote above, about my own uses of blog is what I would like to continue doing here. Even if I’m talking to myself, talking myself through my writing process, through manuscript revisions and submissions.

OK. Let’s see how this goes.

Female Literary Form?

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I am preparing to teach Angeles Monrayo, Tomorrow’s Memories, in Pinay Lit this week. I have been thinking of how to introduce the form itself to my students. How not to take the diary for granted, to cast it as non-literary before we even have an opportunity to examine it closely. How much of that taking for granted is already gendered. Is the diary a female realm. When male writers keep diaries, do we not call them “journals.” What’s the difference, except for perspective and history.

So the diary as female, as epistolary, as in, “Dear Diary….” The diary itself is the confidant, listener, secret keeper. Remember those diaries we were gifted with as young girls, pink and floral, with gold leaf edged pages. And a tiny lock. Each page contained one day of the year. So then, perhaps brevity is also important in recording our private female thoughts. And so is penmanship! We think of diary as highly subjective and casual, with that “I,” which we don’t think of as a literary “I,” but a personal, an intimate “I.”

This is certainly different from blog and any other social media, even when we have adjusted the privacy settings on our accounts. Is there still naïveté about privacy online? Do we still believe no one can access us there? Is there still such as thing as private and secret spaces for girls?

In social media, in public platforms, we are hyper-conscious we are being read and viewed. When we blog, we are engaging in public discourse. Our online writings can travel, and be cited. Hence, we perform. We create public personae, which may resemble or intersect with our “true” selves. But as these public people, our thought processes become performance, our relationships are performed, our outrage is performed, our grief is performed. My guess is, performance has become so much our norm, we are “on” all the time. Even when we make proclamations that we are “switching off,” or “checking out,” we are performing that as well.

In the private diary, ideally there is no performance mode –Anne Frank certainly did not know she would be so widely read by so many people, in so many different languages. The diarist is honest about her beliefs, hopes, and dreams. She is sincere about what she knows and witnesses. It is the perfect medium for a girl, lady, woman, who has been instructed for generations, not to tread into public space, not to participate in public discourse.

And yet, there’s a contradiction, isn’t there. These same girls, ladies, women, have also been instructed for generations, not to prioritize, focus on, centralize the self and her opinions. But in the diary, she is the center, and it is all her opinion.

Manuscript Progress: some brown girl

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I am 44 pages of prose poems into this manuscript. I thought of submitting it as a chapbook, but it’s not done yet; it needs more.

I take this stance in my poems, a POV that perceives itself as superior, looking down upon my some brown girl. This POV, this voice is judgmental, prescriptive, insensitive, and then straight up mean-spirited. It berates my some brown girl, it judges her body. It threatens her with violence.

The other voice in this manuscript is the some brown girl herself, speaking from a thoroughly internally oppressed POV. She is compliant, unreasonably so in some cases, motivated by fear and social pressure. She regurgitates the many terrible things others say to her. I am thinking of the archetypes Marjorie Evasco outlines in her essay, “The Writer and Her Roots,” and I think my some brown girl is tragic. I don’t know yet, exactly how self-aware she is of her own plight, so I don’t know how naive she is. I am writing her as “drinking the Kool-Aid,” though we know that is also a strategy. You don’t know, from appearances, what is brewing beneath. She could be making plans. She could be silently waiting for her moment to murder you. You don’t know.

All this to say, my some brown girl exists under harsh and unending public scrutiny, always “under the microscope,” for a viewer who is actively, aggressively fault-finding. Who is reprimanding, scolding, setting up expectations so unrealistic, anachronistic, and contradictory. My some brown girl can never live up to these.

That said, I recently spent a lovely weekend at the Auerbach Artist Colony in San Francisco, and during the course of that weekend, I thought more and more about what I wanted this manuscript to do (and/or what I want to do with this manuscript). I thought about the inner voice of my some brown girl. It was a villainess’s inner voice, something like my Pinay/aswang’s inner voice, but more rooted in the domestic and contemporary/urban scene. Some of these poems already exist, and the voice of these is a tragic. But she could be “bad,” right? Transgressive, IDGAF about your expectations for my domesticity, and here’s exactly where you can put them. I think I’m done with the tragic, especially as a means of garnering reader sympathy. I think I’m at straight up fed up, straight up fuck you for shoving me into your bullshit gendered little box. I see you and your patriarchy and rape culture.

I think this is why I say “villainess.”

So then it sounds like in addition to the outside voice reprimanding and judging, I have a couple of some brown girl speakers: the one who’s speaking in that internalized oppressed voice, mimicking her oppressor and tragic or to some degree naive (at least on the surface); and the transgressive one.

Anyway, also, I am not in a rush. Let’s get Invocation to Daughters into the world first.