The Vulnerable Raw Journal

Today I’m trying to sit outside despite the fact that it is still a bit chilly. I just miss the fresh air. I’m also using the Chromebook which works perfectly with Roam Research & WordPress. I could honestly get away with using this $100 machine for so many things and the limitations may actually be an advantage in that I can’t do much. I could still quite easily get lost in internet rabbit hole but I don’t tend to do that very often. For my purposes right now this set up is perfect.

Also I’m starting to see an advantage to using index cards instead of notebooks for my notes: there’s something satisfying about sitting with a small pile of cards and entering them in my system which I did not feel when doing the same with notebooks. I suspect this has something in common with the psychology of checkboxes. It’s like making small milestones along your path. When moving over notes from a notebook to digital, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed because the progress is more abstract (page numbers.) “I got from page 47 to 53.” That doesn’t feel the same way that a tangible change in a stack of cards feels. You don’t need to count them or do any math to feel satisfaction. You can just pick up the pile of cards you input and say I got these done. The difference may seem subtle but in practice it is not. In practice the little tricks we are able to play on our brains have powerful leverage.

I’m contemplating something different with this blog—something different for me that is. It occurs to me now that I’m still approaching the blog as articles. I wasn’t even aware I was doing it, but looking back at the past entries I can see that they all focused on specific topics. This isn’t a bad thing, but I really feel more inclined toward the the old days of Tumblr and LiveJournal where each entry is just a daily letter of sorts or ranting chaos. Allow the mess of thoughts to swarm together. “What is this entry about?””It’s about what is on my mind today.”

This is a level of intimacy that I haven’t been comfortable with for a while. Which feels funny for me to be saying as someone who wrote a book called Erectile Dysfunction. The Chad that wrote those poems was completely unafraid of vulnerability, but it’s easy to be unafraid of vulnerability when you have never been burned by it. And yes, in the time since writing that book, doing daily vlogs, and other public forms of openness, I have learned to be more protected. Until last night, while reading Amanda Palmer’s excellent book The Art of Asking, I hadn’t realized just how guarded and secretive I’d become.

Amanda says:

Asking is an act of intimacy and trust. Begging is a function of fear, desperation, or weakness. Those who must beg demand our help; those who ask have faith in our capacity for love and in our desire to share with one another.

On the street or on the Internet, this is what makes authentically engaging an audience, from one human being to another, such an integral part of asking.

Honest communication engenders mutual respect, and that mutual respect makes askers out of beggars.

It was those cluster of words “authentically engaging an audience” that got me thinking about vulnerability. Can you authentically engage an audience when you keep everything about yourself hidden? It’s not an easy question to answer, because that answer will be different for each person. Cormac McCarthy & Bill Waterson have had very successful careers full of devoted fans without open a door or even a window into their lives. For artists like Amanda Palmer, Frida Kahlo, and Jack Kerouac vulnerability is necessary. There are no boundaries between the art and their lives. So, I don’t think this is really the question I was asking myself. I think what I was asking was what what works for me?

I clearly tend toward the reclusive side of things, but reclusive doesn’t mean that what I share isn’t personal. In fact the more I thought about it the more I realized how many things I had failed to say because of over-vigilant self-protection and because of not wanting to “write” it.

It’s really easy to avoid posting things because of the polish process–that’s what I mean when I type “writing” in quotations marks. There are often things I want to post but I avoid simply because they are raw and sloppy and definitely have typos. But if I took the time to polish things to the level I find acceptable it would take days. I don’t want blogs that take days to put together. I want a journal. I want a space that encourages me to share everyday, or at least very frequently. As Pascal wrote: “I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.”

This is the differentiation I was trying to make earlier about the article writing vs LiveJournal type stuff. My tendency toward less frequent article type posting is not some attempt to elevate my thinking, it’s a symptom of fear of vulnerability. The messy journal format that I’m drawn toward is not easy. It’s not easy to put yourself out in a raw form, because by it’s nature you know it’s screaming to be criticized. But when did I become like this? In my head I still think of myself as the person who doesn’t give a fuck about criticism, but that’s not how I’m behaving.

In the middle of writing this in my private journal I began to realize that it was what I needed to post next, and I find it interesting how that knowledge began to twist the tone. It’s going to take a lot for me to face down my biggest enemy: performative writing–as in the tone a piece takes when I know it will be seen. It’s different than my real tone. I don’t know if this is something other people feel when they read things they’ve written but when I get a whiff of it in my writing it bores me.

Interesting to note that I feel while writing this I was typing more non-stop than yesterday yet by word count it’s significantly lower. This is probably because I spent the time to look up two quotes and also because I paused more to collect my thoughts. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, but I have to keep the sidetracking stuff to a minimum. This is a journal not a book. It’s about my thoughts not other people’s.

I really like the idea of pulling larger chunks of this journal into my blog. It’s what I think I’ve been wanting for a while but not realizing. It’s kind of shocking the amount of things I find myself to be thinking that I’m not consciously aware of. Knowing yourself is a daily process. Who am I today? What do I think? What do I want? How do I act? Who am I and am I any better that I was yesterday?

I have the photos widget setup on the home scene of my iPhone. It seems to show me random photos during the day that may or may not be related to the date. I love it. I’ve decided that when appropriate I will include whatever photo is showing at the time that I post (unless it’s actually private of has people in in it who haven’t given permission for the face to plastered on my blog). I won’t explain why the photos are. I like the mystery and the surprisingly juxtaposition they may present without whatever I’ve written above.

Categorized as Thoughts

By C.A. Hall

Writer / Podcaster I'm a well-written sentence marred by a curse word. In another life I might have been a criminal profiler, a jazz drummer, an architect, an acrobat, an actor, or a children’s book illustrator.