It’s week five and I’ve decided to change some pretty core pieces of my site. Instead of weekly prompts from a creative writing prompt book, I will be writing reading responses for collections of essays that interest me. This week I chose the first two: Plan B – Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott and Hunger by Roxane Gay.
I was reflecting on the my relationship with writing and one thing became clear to me: if I am not reading, I am not writing. My hope is that reading these personal essays by others will spur me on to be a more skilled and prolific writer. Ironically, I’ve always had trouble forming thoughts into language. Part of it is insecurity – the fear that I have nothing of meaning to share and part of it is fear of failure. Something that helps me is to have a story to start from. I will read it, take it in, chew on it. I often don’t know how to form words around an idea until I start writing or speaking. Engaging with other’s stories gives me the courage to form thoughts and experience into language.
In an episode of her podcast, Secret Feminist Agenda, Doctor Hannah McGregor (Assistant Professor of Publishing at SFU) talks about the importance of encountering “the other” while reading. When we “read things that do not give [us] the immediate thrill of recognition” we engage with and accept folks that are different than us. To me, the practice of reading work that I don’t recognize myself in is just as important as finding myself in other’s stories. I hope to come up with some meaningful material with respect to the ethics of reading in this way.
And, I changed my theme again. I felt that this theme was characteristic of the simplicity of my site. I want the writing to be on display while still being not mind-numbing to look at. I am playing around with fonts and colours. I want the colours on my site to be soothing and earthy, to be engaging but not loud.
This week I need to make some content changes to my home page, describing what can be found on my site, and decide on fonts that will be complimentary to each other.
Tara Chittenden’s article points to the ways in which teenage fashion blogging has been constructive in helping young women construct identity while building confidence and relate with their peers. At first glance, I am really frightened by this expression of community. Though there seems to be constructive and healthy connection with peers, the fact that it takes place online means that there is inherent distance in those relationships and connections. However, upon revisiting this work, I am more convinced that these online interactions are apart of – as I touched on before – an ethic of reading; the practice of engaging with lived experiences different from out own. And there is often distance inherent in those interactions as well. While I’m not totally sold on these interactions being largely positive with no negative relational implications, I am willing to engage with online discourse as a form either: searching out a variety of lived experiences; or experiencing the catharsis of recognition.