Is there any art in writing about yourself?


Sometimes it’s really hard to think about stuff to blog about. Which is why there’s sometimes a big gap between my posts; either I can’t think of anything worth blathering about, or the thing I’ve written is such a load of boring, rancid old balls that I’ve deleted it in disgust before it’s got to the add new post page in WordPress. Yes, that does mean sometimes I write even worse crap than this.

Some writers get over this hurdle by writing about themselves. The ultra-confessional post or article is a genre of its own nowadays and it seems like some writers are competing to see who can be the most horrendous human being possible in order to entertain their readers. Which makes me wonder whether, kind of like Shia LaBeouf, they’re all actually performance artists (seriously, it’s either that or he’s a comedy genius, or, more depressingly, just really damaged) and their writing is just the documentation of their performances. The only other possibility is that’s just the way they live their lives. If that’s the case, I’m not sure, for some of them at least, that’s it morally acceptable for people to be rewarding their bloody awful life decisions with publication and payment. Some of them clearly need help, while others, being in possession of an over-inflated sense of their own importance, are in want of slap.

Perhaps I’m just jealous that they’re getting regularly published and given money for it…well, yes, obviously. I am jealous of anyone who gets to write for money, especially if the topic is slightly more interesting than food packaging company mergers in Denmark. Maybe it’s because I have nothing in my own life interesting enough to write about. Again, er, yep, ‘fraid so. I like to think, smugly, that this is because I am a mature adult (ha, ok) who has moved past doing stupid things and am now all well balanced and shit, it’s probably more to do with being a lazy/boring person. If there’s a choice between watching old episodes of Deep Space Nine with a bowl of popcorn or pretty much anything that involves wearing shoes AND leaving the house, then I know what my decision is going to be in nine out of ten cases.

But my own pathetic life aside, I do doubt the artistic merit of confessional life writing, at least in the majority of cases. Of course, in that annoying way life works, there are some exceptions to the rule. Quite a few actually I guess, as some people have not only had interesting lives worthy of documenting, but also the talent to write about it in an interesting, moving and often amusing way. (Take a moment to think of your own examples, I can’t be bothered to google it.) There are also quite a few people that can write well about their slightly less exciting lives, or one aspect of it, like a weird hobby or pet, and while perhaps they aren’t churning out any Nobel or Samuel Johnson prize winning material, they aren’t the ones I mean either.

I’m talking about the people writing about the lolz they’ve had while abusing their own (and/or other peoples) bodies. Congratulations for taking an almost lethal amount of recreational drugs, then coming to in front of a Subway 300 miles away from where you started partying, with someone else’s clothes on and several slices of gherkin plastered to your face. There’s something about people writing that sort of stuff that is inherently dishonest, because if they’re writing a regular column about their ridiculous life then they’re obviously living at least some of it with their next deadline in mind. Partying for a job is not really partying; just ask Slurms McKenzie.

The only way I could respect that sort of thing would be if they’re actually sitting on their sofa in their dressing gown with their cat, repeats of Grand Designs on in the background, making up all the partying they are apparently doing. That would be art.

And it also kind of sounds like my idea of a great Saturday night.

If you like this, check out my blog about assault by popular culture and follow me on Twitter @SallyWJones.

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