Poetry and personal blog – Spilling my guts to strangers

In Real Time

Recently, as I was poring over a poem written last year that I hadn’t read since the first draft, I was surprised at how much my perception of the world and my writing style had evolved. It really let me know that this blogging experience has had a tremendous impact on me. On the other hand, the words “naked, exposed, unprotected and unsheltered” figured prominently in the first stanza, reminding me of the last poem I posted, which was writen a couple of weeks ago. I’ve heard some say that poets should revisit themes, even specific words and phrases, in their poems as many times as necessary, until they get it out of their systems.

So what does it mean to be naked, open, vulnerable? For me, starting from the outside in, I absorb what’s going on around me, which sometimes leads me to wonder if I’m lacking some sort of self-preservation gene. But I’m still here so I guess I’m doing ok. I don’t just want to know the superficial, I want to understand what makes people tick. I empathize–maybe too much–with other peoples joys and pain. For we writers, is that an occupational hazard?

As for who I am on the inside, I want to be the same person when I am alone as I am when everyone is looking. To me, that is the truest measure of inner peace. But in real time, is it remotely possible to reconcile those two realities, the inner life and the outward appearance, things like nose picking and masturbation aside? I’m talking about who we really are as individuals, our essence. I apply the same question to writing as a profession and an art: Are there certain aspects of our inner lives that should not be revealed? What about certain states of being, certain body parts, certain body fluids–what’s off limits?

In terms of recurring themes, I think that exploring my limits is the essence of this blog, the lessons I am trying to learn from writing it. No matter which topics I tackle–marriage, the economy, religion, poetry–I’m trying to expand the boundaries of what is said about these topics and how I say them.

My sister has only recently begun exploring this blog. Variously over the years, we’ve lived together, talked to each other on the phone every day, and confided with each other intimate details of our lives. She was very much aware of all of the events I have described in my posts. When I asked her what she thought after having read them, she said, “It’s as if I’m meeting you for the first time.” That floors me. I still can’t understand why she would feel that way except that maybe the difference is in the writing somehow, the honing in of thoughts feelings–the difference between the movie and the book, which loses something in translation?

© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2010.


Comments on: "In Real Time" (16)

  1. “It is as if I am meeting you for the first time.” You know, my Grammy said something along that line after I printed out “The Chemo wife” for her. It dawned on me, I think at that moment, that we (writers) come to ourselves like a diamond cutter chips at a rock to make it a facetted crown piece. We aren’t one thing, but we are one thing with many sides. Perhaps many people are like that, but since I am writer I can only speak for me right? If we were the same every-place then our writing would be the “same” all the time I think, and our inner peace is the focus. Just a thought-and see how you get me thinking! *hugs* I love ya girlie!

    • It’s weird how you see yourself as one way and others perceive you differently. I like your idea of the diamond with many facets, it’s a good analogy. But at least if we can be the same diamond in both realms? Lol! Thanks as always for your comments, always thought provoking.

  2. As each poet writes they begin to explore not only the world around them but what lies within them..such writing lets others see them for the first time as they lay naked for all to see…enjoyed reading your reflections about your writing.

  3. Hey Miss Sweepy Jean 🙂
    It has been a while since I’ve been here, it’s like that with all the ‘good’ blogs. I’ve misplaced you and so many others and found you again on my BlogHer. My illness hit hard and I basically stopped reading, stopped writing, and stopped living. I’m coming back!
    I came by to say hi, and let you know that I checked out the invite for the Boho blogger and it wasn’t there anymore =( And then I read your post. I definitely don’t consider myself a writer, although I sure would love to be able to weave words into works of art that would make people-fill in the blank. Happy, thoughtful, inspired, content? You, are an amazing writer. Thank you for sharing you. I’m glad that the blogging has helped you grow. I’m glad that I’m around to read about it.

    • Hi, Michelle. I’m so sorry you were so sick but I’m glad you’re feeling better. Here’s to continued better health.

  4. I too want to be authentic in all I do, but when it comes to others perceptions we can only hope to influence them. Their perceptions are truly their own. When I was training younger cadets at the Air Force Academy they thought I was 6’4 and 220 pounds. The next year when they were upperclassmen they asked me if I had shrunk. I’m only 6’1, and was 197lbs at the time. Where they got the extra 3 inches and 20 lbs I’ll never know.

    we have so many layers to us, and just like our skin, wear and tear sometimes dulls the outer layers that the world sees and it loses some of it’s luster and elasticity. This blog may be such a cathartic experience that it is doing for you emotionally what my chemical face peel did for me. Took off the top layers and let new skin grow back in it’s place. It’s still my skin, but at the same time, it’s a new face. Maybe that’s what your sister means. Maybe you’re still peeling back and letting new, healthier skin grow back in it’s place. To your sister, it may just look like a new face! 😉

    • So true about perceptions, Justice. Another funny thing about perceptions is that we can look at something and have one thought about it at first and then at a later point in time see the exact same thing differently. Sometimes things change over time and sometimes we change and thus our perceptions change.

  5. Interesting topic. Matching what we show and what we are, public/private. The struggle to live authentically is one of the biggest ones we deal with and it’s not often that the chance to express your total self comes across. I think ultimately this is the only way to true communication, which only becomes possible with time and consistent expression combined with those on the outside really looking to know you. As for our part (the expressor) we can only try to put ourselves out there in the hopes that someone will look and pay attention. At least you’ve “sent the invitation” But in daily life it often comes down to, in a brief amount of time what of myself is relevant to this person or situation right now? Either way, you can be the same person in public or private, and you’re the only authority on your own success in this regard. A blog seems the ideal medium for this task, a public display which exists whenever anyone’s ready to “meet you”
    and as far as testing your limits, I can see that and think that’s wonderful. If you don’t test your limits how will you ever know how much you contain?
    I applaud your effort, it’s a worthwhile cause for sure, and a challenge you are meeting head on!

    • Lots of valid points here, Brent, thanks for your comments. The one that sticks out the most for me is the thought that, at the end of the day, I am the only one who knows if I am the same in public as I am in private. The goal for me on a personal level is for the two to jibe–not an easy task but something I choose to work on. People’s perceptions I have no control over and as you said, we all have our own agendas at any given moment.

  6. Once a year I read my private journal from a year ago and think “God, look how bad things were. I’m glad things are better.” A year later, I do and think the same things over again.

    My poetry has evolved a little differently. I did my years as an angsty poet, did my dues there, wrote a lot of poetry about my dad, it once embarrassed me to look back, but I know it’s part of what I needed to go through and get out of my system. I hadn’t written a poem about him since then, for years, until I wrote Shakes. It’s a very different poem, more mature, but on the same theme as a lot of the poems were back then.

    I’m sure I had a point, but it escapes me. lol.

    • Hi, Rhi! Oddly enough, I think I might understand what you mean. 🙂 Sometimes I think that during our lifetimes, we learn and mature (hopefully) but there are some core elements in our personalities and thought processes that don’t change.

  7. Jane Haislip said:

    The authenticity in our writing and living out our daily life’s in important. I’m finding I don’t like where I am in life right now….processing through some painful issues and i’m just sitting back, looking from the outside in. Perhaps that’s okay too. But then again, to start writing again might be therapeutic. I’ve got every excuse in the book for not writing. One being that people don’t want to read this crap. So, maybe I’m not so “authentic” after all. I did love your piece ;0. janie

    • You said a mouthful, Janie. I’m sorry you’re going through a tough time. My humble advice: Process it in the way you need to process it, as long as you think it’s helping you. If you truly are using your writing as therapy, then it doesn’t matter who thinks it’s crap; it’s not for them, it’s for you. Or else, write what you think people will like. Or else write and don’t share it with anyone. You do have a choice. If you are being “yourself,” you are authentic. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  8. […] or Poet? Audience of One (In this post, I was supposed to be talking to myself, ie, my own audience) In Real Time Women and Children My name […]

  9. […] live life as if I’m on the beach, so to speak, living in the moment, living consciously, manifesting on the outside what I feel inside, and loving every minute of […]

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