Gaps and Spaces

Ernesto recently wrote:

If you are going to have a blog, commit to it. Blogging, in my view, implies a responsibility. The blog makes me write. The blog, the new "papel máquina", opens up the previously-private process of writing."

Ernesto's rant was, well, ranty, but really well taken. I think he's talking about writing-as-praxis and the blogsphere as yet one more place to practice. Yet, like him, I find blogs that are sometimes just daily diaries of events and happenings, a way to connect to others, usually friends, too far away for a phone call (or perhaps too numerous?) Other times they are elaborate near-zines, daily columns critiquing the often maddening world we live in. Still yet, there are fan blogs and rant blogs. The focus is entirely author-based tinged with a sense of marketing, answering the questions -what do I want to say and how can I say it so others will read and perhaps even respond to it?

At least, that's what I think the gap is pointing to...gaps and spaces - these are the topics of my brainpan of late.

I'm a slow writer. I type really, really fast, but I write, really really slow. I once met a successful SF novelist who had the same affliction. Her whole day was about writing and she needed several pads of paper and numerous pencils around her house to be sure to jot down bits and pieces of story that would meander her way throughout the day. To sit down and write for hours like Stephen King and such was not so much antithetical to her as it was incomprehensible.

I find that I'm the same...I write throughout the day, even when I'm not actually typing or even jotting down words. Themes and stories run around in my head. Angles of essays, implications of social theories, applicability of assumptions/beliefs all just dance around, and I wait for them to congeal into something that might resemble a readable thing.

Gaps and spaces. Yeah, so gaps...gaps are the things we see or sense or experience that don't fit the 'norm,' the expected flow of things. Gaps can be small, like a misunderstanding between lovers about the proper way to put a roll of toilet paper on the spindle. Gaps can spur invention, like the problem of transporting thing A to point B, and we have a thing called a wheel which becomes a wagon which becomes a truck which becomes a plane. Gaps can be violent, like this social disease we call racism and it's cousin poverty.

When emotion is added, tough emotions like anger and fear, the gaps become huge and unmanageable, but they can also spur on the energy for change - couples learn to communicate better, new tools are manufactured, and underrepresented/invisible groups band together and become a voice to be reckoned with. Gaps, then, become spaces.

Space, as a word, is roomy, to me, and lacking the sense of loss 'gap' carries. Space for critique, space for understanding, space for equity, space for compassion. Space acknowledges that what can be viewed as a disconnection can be seen as an opportunity instead, a place for positive change, a place for healing.

Blogs are spaces that often point to/reveal gaps in our social/economic/spiritual/
intellectual/political/etc systems. And as such provide places to practice methods to address the gaps.

I don't know that I agree that bloggers have a responsiblity to regularly practice their craft in the blogsphere, but I suspect that bloggers do take their vocation, the ability to identify gaps and create space, seriously.

It just may take some of us longer than others to finally get that all down on the page.

Addendum: More discussion is also happening at Okir Thanks for hosting, Jean, and thanks to all who've responded.


Sky said...


...whuf. That's good stuff. I've always enjoyed reading essays about Emptyness, and the Void, but I like even better your take on Gaps and Spaces. They are empty places, but with bounds... and purpose.

...now, whistling tunelessly, I'm off to find my own Space for Change.


barbara jane said...

hey bec! re: "I don't know that I agree that bloggers have a responsiblity to regularly practice their craft in the blogsphere, but I suspect that bloggers do take their vocation, the ability to identify gaps and create space, seriously."

i agree with you. i believe wholeheartedly, and i say this frequently, that the blog is a show. it can be a variety show, a talk show, whatever. a show, as light-hearted or as heavy-handed as you like.

do we writers engage in serious writing and dialogue on the blog/in blogworld? sure we do, but this is not the sole place for us to do this; the blog is but one forum in which ideas are fleshed out and perhaps even exchanged.

as a writer, with or without blog, you determine for yourself what your responsibility is, to whom and why, and especially how you accomplish praxis. this i firmly believe.

i also agree with you about space, and i believe as folks throw around this nebulous 'responsibility' to a disembodied whom, what, and why, meaningful and necessary space can potentially become filled with garbage.

what you finally commit to the page, and whatever your pace, does not have to = blog. there's stuff in my poems (the published ones as well as other, more rough and perhaps failed attempts), in my moleskine, in my handwritten letters to a loved one that'll most likely never see the blog light of day.

as it should be.

Lorna Dee Cervantes said...

"I get up in the morning, pick up a pencil, and I try to think." ~ Nobel prize winning astro-physicist and mathematician, Hans Bethe

Thanks for this, it's so well-written.

Yes, responsibility, but different, an act of love in its obssessiveness. I just feel like it's a conference call with the world; I don't want to plunge anyone into a waiting silence in the polylogue of blogville. (Is that a frog waiting to be kissed?) And, I, too, hate the absence when my favorite bloggers take too long between posts. It's like discovering you've been hanging out in someone's backyard but no one's home any more -- they all went to the store.

I think the point was po' bloggers treating their blogs as a waste site rather than the rich compost of a creative life. I'm with Ernesto, and I thank him for the rant.

I thank you for punctuating it so well.

Ernesto said...

Thank you, Bec, for such an interesting, articulate post. I am glad you did not take my "rant" the wrong way. Lorna has expressed my point better than I did. (Thank you, Lorna!) I was upset by this post by this writer who expressed disdain at his readers for showing up to see if there were any updates on his blog, almost saying, "what are you losers doing here? I am writing real stuff out there in the real world, I have no time to waste here!". I do understand the importance of "gaps and spaces", we know of how these "lapses" of time between writing are meaningful by themselves, and how time is required to think things over. Sometimes these automated, "instant communication" times can make us think that "waiting time" is negative, and it is not, necessarily.

By "responsibility" I was thinking in terms of Lithuanian philosopher Emmanuel Levinás, a form of "responsiveness" which implies that I am always indebted to the other. In my view, a blog is always indebted to the other, no matter how "personal" or "intimate" we want it to be. It's here in the public sphere of the internet, and its main purpose, I think, is expression and its communication to others rather than just me myself and I (even though I think most of us bloggers do go back to our blogs to read ourselves once and again, to see how it looks, and imagine how it must be seen by different people all over the world, in different computer screens, of all brands and ages, in radically different geographical and cultural contexts). To write, then, would be an attempt to put oneself in the place of the other, which means to imagine how the other reads us.

My rant was not directed to those who do not post on a daily basis. I was upset by some bloggers's disdain for their readers or for their blogs themselves.

Thank you again for such a beautiful, thought-provoking blog.

Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor said...

Sky - see, now you always manage to see more in my writing than I intend, making me feel smarter than I think, while at the same time giving me more to think about - boundaries as defining purpose...I'm gonna be chewing on /that/ one for awhile.

BJ - as a writer, with or without blog, you determine for yourself what your responsibility is, to whom and why, and especially how you accomplish praxis. this i firmly believe. Yes, and that sense of responsibility is something I /get/. My only problem recently is determining little details like What my responsibility is...and to Whom...and Why...and...well, yeah. *chagrin* But yes, my blog is a window in a larger house.

Lorna - I think that any writer that diss'es his/her audience is a great, great fool, a fool exceeded only by the writer who doesn't take his/her writing seriously (even when it's humor). Words are too precious to just throw away, I think. At the same time, I find I freeze up totally if I feel too much expectation to 'perform.' It's perhaps not so much that I've gone to the store as I am working up the courage to open the window.

Ernesto - Thank you for not taking my response wrong also! I like this idea 'responsiveness' - there are times when I feel engaged, like now, in a conversation, and as such, I feel honored to be both spoken to, as well as listened to. As I mentioned to Lorna above, though, any writer who doesn't honor themselves, their work, and their readers is missing entirely the point, to my mind, of writing from the heart.