I’ve been cleaning up old bookmarks today, and I stumbled onto the link to my old blog: almost five years’ worth of my work slumbering out there on the internet, for everyone with the right password to see. Yes, it’s password-protected; I’ve walled it off from scrutiny. I’ve even just changed the settings so that it won’t get found in search engines (I hope), so don’t bother asking to read it.
Not that you would, of course… I’m just covering my butt. Honestly, it’s really only sentiment that keeps me from deleting the thing entirely (if that’s even technically possible). Sentiment and the thought that one day, if I’m suitably famous, someone might wish to mine it for a biography. (I can dream, can’t I?)
Those who will remember the old blog will do so, I hope, fondly. My own estimation of its worth is much less charitable, especially having re-read a bit of it these last few days. It was so horribly fueled by anger—its original title was “Things I Hate,” but months of work with a really good therapist and my ever-present desire to see things from two sides led me, in time, to modify it somewhat: “Things I Hate and/or Love.” Still, much of what I wrote there was sharp-tongued, acerbic, unkind, declarative, and judgmental: a reflection, honestly, of the miserable relationship I was mired in when I started it.
My life gives me so much more joy now—not only my family and my work, but everything, really. I’m curious, full of questions, eager, positive: the poster child for joie de vivre, practically, compared to three years ago. As a result, I find myself so much more inclined to find ways to make this blog (and all the public prose I produce) be reader-centric, rather than purely me-centric. I really want my writing to be useful, even if I take myself (as I’m doing now) as my subject.
Why is it that happiness leads to generosity? Maybe it’s as simple as “You’re getting what you need, so you have more to give others.” (Harder to understand, and to remember, is that generosity leads to happiness—if you’re blue, I find, nothing gets you going like doing somebody a big favor.) I don’t know.
What I do know is that I can tell when a playwright—or, really, any kind of writer—isn’t thinking about his or her audience at all. Self-interested writers strike me as masturbatory, gimmicky, “clever,” polemical, and (often, but not always) bitter. I’m thinking here, too, of my friend Mariah MacCarthy’s inspiring notion of Theatre of Compassion—and wondering whether she considered compassion toward audiences as well as toward characters. Playwrights who write thinly-veiled sermons, or who simply write to work out their issues on stage while we watch, or who write in obscure symbols and metaphors I’m required to decode, hold no interest for me whatsoever. (I won’t name names—you know who they are.) Honestly? I can’t really understand why anyone cares for work like that at all.
But they do—they must, or it wouldn’t get produced. People do still manage to enjoy playwrights who don’t seem to care whether their audiences even exist. It’s almost like young love, isn’t it? Going after somebody who doesn’t really care about you and wouldn’t really be good for you anyway. In time, you just have to outgrow it—just like I outgrew the old blog once I’d sorted out my life.