It’s easy to be Puff, but it’s harder to be Sean.

Left: Sean Combs circa 1987, his senior year of high school. Right: Diddy and Jay, bein’ Diddy and Jay.

Now that writing is my livelihood – specifically, now that writing for someone else is my livelihood – it’s more important than ever for me to keep pushing myself to grow as a writer and to actively cultivate my own voice. I’m fortunate to be able to do what I love all day, and I feel connected to the topics I cover at work (taking risks, finding balance, and empowering women, among others—all things I’ve written about here). That being said, I necessarily approach these subjects differently in the context of my job. The personal anecdotes and conversational style of a blog would be inappropriate in much of what I write for work, and without the reliable crutch of “me,” it would be easy for my writing to go to a very generic place. There, my challenge is to find fresh approaches to familiar ideas, and to do it in ways that aren’t about me. Here, my challenge is to write about me, but to do it in ways that make the “me” part matter.

A pensive moment for Sean (or is it Diddy?) Combs.

I hesitate to even address this, but I got an anonymous comment comparing a post I wrote on my new lunch place to a Yelp review. I genuinely welcome conversation and criticism—me writing about myself to a faceless Internet with no interactive component is pointless, even – especially! – to me. I will always approve negative comments, as long as they aren’t hateful or gratuitous, and I gave this one some thought. Yes, the post was fluffy. And yes, I want to be real on my blog. But the part of me that loves lunch and wants to get better at writing about lunch is as real as the part of me that loves looking deep inside myself and sharing what I find (and the part of me that believes in attaching a name to my opinions, for that matter). Sometimes I want to write a lighthearted restaurant review. Sometimes I want to write something more personal. It’s all me, though. It all takes time and effort, even if only some of it takes courage.

Sorry he’s not sorry.

In my first post, I touched on how I used to use blogging predominantly as a way of controlling my public image. That’s no longer the case. These days, when I write a Diddy ditty instead of a Sean Combs confessional, it’s because I strive for a life of balance, and I hope that the openness of BITE reflects that. Truthfully, though, there is a lot of stormy stuff I’ve shied away from on here. I’m tempted to blame it on timing – first I was job hunting, and now I’m making new friends and don’t want to scare them away by being That Girl – but I would be lying if I didn’t also cop to being afraid. Accountability is the dark side of being a writer. There’s never a convenient time to open a vein. But pushing yourself to grow in your passions isn’t supposed to be comfortable or easy, and I’m feeling increasingly driven to share. Because if I didn’t believe that words could make a difference, I wouldn’t be doing what I do.

Is there an aspect of doing what you love that scares you?

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2 responses to “It’s easy to be Puff, but it’s harder to be Sean.

  1. Emma, thanks for your blog. It is thoughtful, fresh, and fun. Though I can’t say I’m surprised, I am continually impressed!

    As a playwright, I fear putting too much of myself or those I know into my plays. Assuming these writings ever see production, it feels inevitable that I will be “found out” by someone close to me, and then… what? Maybe nothing so terrible. Maybe I’ve made an unwitting homage. Or maybe I’ve broken a friendship.

    Yet I can’t help observing that vulnerability often makes an author’s work great. Then I question why I’d waste my time on anything safer when it may, in fact, be something less. Perhaps it is wiser to fear a lack of daring, which may result in safe words that say little of value.

    • emmaaubryroberts

      One million amens to your last paragraph. Even with bloggers, the ones I respect most are the soul-baring ones. There’s a definite line between a legit blog and a Xanga-style ravefest, but what keeps me coming back to any site in the long run is the existence of a real human being at its core.

      And I feel you on the real-people-as-creative-fodder dilemma as well. I always wonder how sex columnists have functional relationships when everything that goes on between them is publicly rehashed—even my super vague post on self-rejection made me SO nervous. I also feel like I need distance (both time and physical space) to be able to write about real people and events in a productive way, so I can’t imagine doing that kind of reactionary writing in real time.

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