Letting Friends Do Their Thing: Writers Versus Bloggers

I’ve been neglecting you, dear readers. I feel it every day. Like a friend who isn’t returning calls or emails – and I have played that part with some dear old friends of late too.

“You were always on my mind,” as Willie Nelson sings, but I’ve been cherishing the inward time. Not that blogging and “inward time” are opposites. I read others’ sometimes, and it feels like a diary, and I get that somewhat used feeling you get when someone you hardly know has just told you all about their hard luck love life and never once asked how you are.

And yet – and yet, that’s why we read blogs, for the personality, that faithful recording of the subjective experience. Without it, it’s just amateur criticism.

Like friends, you’ve got to let your correspondents do their thing. Even so public a writer as Martin Luther King had his cabin in the woods he could disappear to for a while – though he certainly made a grander entrance than most when he emerged.

The Gantt Cottage at Penn Center, South Carolina.

The Gantt Cottage at Penn Center, South Carolina.

Sometimes young adults – to me that’s under 30 – relate their romantic or friendship dramas to me, and tell me about their friends who: a., got insulted by something they said; b., demanded an explanation for their absences; c., asked them point blank whether they valued their friendship; or, d., wanted to discuss the future of the friendship.

When a young person suffers a romantic breakup, they think they’re going to die, and they fight as if their life depends on it. “Why is youth so terribly unmerciful? And who has given it permission to be that way?” the opera singer’s old mother asks in Smiles of a Summer Night. When a mature person suffers a breakup, they know they’re not going to die. They just get tired. “This shit again,” he or she thinks.

Rest assured, though, I’m not breaking up with anybody. I’m talking about you and me, dear reader. Let’s leave romantic relationships aside.

I often tell younger friends that one of the pleasures of getting older is that the dramatic rifts get fewer and further between. Not that they never happen, but as you mature the dramas, and dramatic people, self-select out of your life. Whenever a friend or associate of a recent vintage is forthcoming with a list of people who have done them wrong, people they no longer have time for, I take notice. I figure there’s a fair chance I will be on that list some day.

Luckily, maturity also brings a capacity for graceful forgiveness. So forgive me, for losing track of the spirit of blogging for a spell. Writers by nature try to craft the perfect document: the definitive statement, the can’t-be-ignored op-ed piece, the perfectly written screenplay. Bloggers keep that perfectionist impulse in check, and just keep posting.

To get reacquainted, I promise to get up and post every morning this week. I like what we have, and I want to keep it going. Now let’s speak of it no more.


  1. Charles,



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