Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Ethics, or lack thereof, of Blogging

I inadvertantly hurt a good friend by using stories she told me on the blog. I loved the stories and they carried on against a cranky point
I'd been making in her own touching way. But they were private stories that she told me. And I shouldn't have used them.

I'm not much of a talker. And I love to listen. And I transmit much of what I hear, often into poems. Woe be to the folks sitting next to me at Starbucks if they are having a fascinating, intimate story. 

My new and large problem, beside having hurt a good person's feelings, or sense of correctness, is that I spent five months at the track, working a bit, and listening. And writing down what I heard and saw. I've done poems about the track and a chapbook of them will be published sometime in the near future, I hope. At least it's in a pipe line. But I was stealing stories then, too. 

But what I'm doing now is major league. And probably that's wrong. But I'm fascinated by what I hear and am trying my best to transmit something of the struggles, the comedy, the hard work that working with, making a living from Thoroughbreds, involves. It's about class, of course, and economics, and lack of privilege. My interests. But they are stolen stories and it's probable that I don't even remember them correctly.

I have always been fodder for my own work. Probably because there were secrets in the house when my mother was sick. No one except my father, not even her sister or my half-brother who is sixteen years old, knew she had cancer, struggled with it for four years. After years and years and years of therapy and living in New York where, then, everyone said the worst in the first three minutes, I learned to say, "Hello, my name is Melissa, my mother died when I was twelve, I lost my memory of my childhood, my father drank, made a bad marriage, I had an abortion, then got married, divorced him, had a baby, wasn't married, blah and blah...."   

In the early 70's, I took a lot of daily self-portraits. This year, I echoed the same series (as I've done at two other intervals). I didn't take the nudes that I did then, perhaps because my space doesn't provide easy access to a white wall, but I did examine the changes brought about by age. Actually I'd like to do a whole project that is just close examination. 

I'm quite horrified to look at my arms when I pull up the sleeves on my turtleneck. They are not my arms and these are not my hands. But they are really interesting to look at. And I use everything as fodder, I'm sorry to say, even other people.

It's easy to say that writers or photographers do that, but it's also easy to understand how hurtful this tendency can be -- whether it's meant with love or not. 

But I'll try to be better in blogging.


  1. I believe you've evened things up by posting the photos of your aging body. Well, almost. I hope your friend has forgiven you.

    I too have to 'steal' all I can.

  2. these pix are fascinating, and i agree with Mim, the point is made: you put it all out there, it's what you do. you're a documentary maker.
    i empathize with your friend, too, of course...but the story telling has such momentum...

  3. Writers are magpies. If you're prepared to use your own stuff then it stands to reason it will include the stuff of others. Have you ever read someone else's writing about you?

    That might give you some sense of what it feels like to be written about It's happened to me once that I know of and it's an odd feeling.

    Given that I consider pretty well everything that gets written, in literature at least, as a kind of fiction, it doesn't trouble me to be written about, to be used as some other writer's fodder.

    It might though if it were written as a statement of fact with my name attached.

  4. thanks, Elizabeth. I see what you mean about my question about whether I can use the names (or change them) in the piece about the track.
    Magpie is right, nice little pebbles, a bright feather, something that glitters.
    I've never seen anything written about me. I've seen many photographs from various situations and might think, oh, she looks forlorn, at least recently, but I never mind them even if I look ghastly...In many ways, photography has been my fiend (that's a freudian slip) and I just accept what anyone else thinks of me that the photograph shows...