What Makes French Letters Tick?
Have you checked out your navel lately? I know it sounds a bit kinky, in a neck-cricking sort of way, but I find that every so often a little navel-gazing does most of us good.
Recently I received an email from a reader telling me how she sees French Letters, and asking why I do what I do. Which, when you think of it, is a really good invitation to self-examination, and makes for a timely wrap up to the blog’s first year in the world.
Somewhere in the early part of my life I came across Socrates’ notion that “the unexamined life is not worth living” and apparently it made quite an impression on me. So, thanks to N.S., whom I’ve never met, for this reminder to stop and take a good look at the inner workings of what’s become a very nice part of my life. Here’s some of what she said:
“I read your blog faithfully. I’m still trying to work out what to say, if anything, to your “bird in the hand” entry; it strikes so close to my heart that I fear writing the wrong thing.”
Friends of French Letters, there’s no wrong thing you could say. The Comment section of the blog is a place for readers to express themselves, and you are all cordially invited to do so. If something touches you, please, touch back!
“The French Letters is becoming, for me, less a blog and more a series of really fine essays. I think what you’re writing is on a par with the essays of Joan Didion and Maya Angelou. Seriously. “
Thank you for the compliment, but if I took that seriously we’d need the Jaws of Life to extract my swollen head from the biggest bird Air France flies!
“I keep wondering what the driving force is for blogging……. I’m curious about whether the blog is good exercise, good exposure, good advertisement, a venue for expression, all of the above, or something else I’ve overlooked. I’d love to know your thoughts on this, if you care to respond.”
Whew. That’s a series of hard questions. I could start by asking my Inner Blogger whether I write for mainly you or for myself. That’s easy, the answer is both. But would I write if you didn’t read? Probably not. Would my life be different without French Letters? Totally. Would yours? I hope so.
I write about the things that make a difference in my life, and hope they’ll make some small difference in yours as well. However, I have to agree that the line between essay writing and blogging is a bit floue for me, blurry. Does that matter?
Well, sure. To call myself an essayist would be to take myself too seriously. As a blogger I have a wonderful freedom, to be silly, irreverent, post pictures of my lunch, brag about my cat, all the things Joan Didion would probably like to do but can’t because she’s, well, Joan Didion. Because a blog is in the moment, if we suddenly can’t drink the water here in town or a kid grabs a bull by the tail in the main street, I get to write about it as if it were a Big Deal.
Of course, to me it is a big deal. It’s all a big deal, and you might even say that’s my specialty, making a big deal out of the daily minutiae of our life in France. When I was a kid my Mom was forever saying that I tended to make mountains out of molehills, and you know, for once I think she might have been right.
But lately I’ve been asking myself whether I dare to dig a little deeper. I’d like to write about what the French people think about the upcoming American elections. I might like to tackle the topic of how French society is changing before our very eyes. Sometimes I think French Letters should have a little less food and wine, and a little more France.
But then, those would be essays. The blog could become more serious. Standards might have to be imposed. The Fun Quotient might go down. Beppo might no longer feel at home as a French Letters regular.
And how about you, friends met and unmet? If you could make one French Letters wish for the coming year, what would it be? After all, I write for you as least as much as I do for myself, so you should get to have a say in all this. Because, finally, it’s as much about communication as it is about self-expression.
And then, in a few days, I promise that I’m going to take you on a road trip to Amsterdam and Bretagne, to reward you for your faithful reading of whatever it is I’m writing here.