Thursday, December 08, 2005

Why and How

A few days ago, fellow blogging soprano Canadienne posted a farewell from the blogosphere, hopefully a temporary one. She explains her well-thought-out reasons in her post, so I won’t rehash them here. Go read it, though, as my post is related. (This post in not intended as a judgment on Canadienne’s blogging choices, just an explanation of mine.)

She got me thinking about why I blog and how I choose to blog. The “why” has changed over the years. I started keeping a journal of sorts of regular “Updates” from Tanglewood in 2003 in order to avoid writing the same email over and over again to keep friends and family in the loop. I stopped at the end of the summer (in the middle of the summer, actually) because I didn’t think I had anything “worth writing home about” going on during the rest of the year. But I started up again when I went back to the Berkshires in 2004. As I gained confidence as a singer, confident that I was truly in the early stages of a career and not just a hobby, I gained confidence as a writer, writing more often and in more depth. I started writing to a more general audience, not just my family, even though, at the time, I didn’t think anyone else was reading. I guess it was a manifestation of what everyone (?) dreams about: writing your memoir or autobiography. Hoping that you’ll have a life exciting enough that people will want to read about it! I have certainly dreamed about, and from a very early age. Reading biographies of Gelsey Kirkland and Maria Tallchief made me hope that someone would write my story someday. Or that I would.

When, in February of this year, I saw that Alex Ross had put me on his Blogroll, I learned that, indeed, other people were reading. After I dealt with the strange, small-worldness of the internet (people in New Zealand were reading!), I decided to embrace it, to see my blog as another creative outlet. And – and this is the big one, I think – to see it as a chance to give people an insider’s view of life as an aspiring opera singer.

This brings me to the “how” of my blog, or, rather, the “what.” When I started writing in 2003, I understood that as vast and anonymous as the internet can be, it can also be very small. So, I decided not to use my blog as a place to vent frustrations or go into detail about negative experiences. I knew for certain that I wouldn’t use someone’s name unless I knew they would be comfortable with the context in which they were mentioned. Hence the initials or vague descriptions. I also knew that even general references to complaints and troubles I might have with colleagues, companies, or situations “at work” would have to be left out. That was my choice from the very beginning. If it was ugly or overly frustrating, it didn’t get written about.

The chorus master at Santa Fe last summer stumbled upon my blog while looking for reviews of the summer’s operas, and he spoke with me about this. He voiced what I’ve thought for some time now: that I’d “better be careful” what I say! I hope I am, and that I haven’t crossed the proverbial line at any time.

This may mean that I’m presenting a slanted version of my life by leaving out the frustrations. But I don’t think so. I’m generally a pretty optimistic person, choosing to either see the good in a situation or get over the bad as quickly as possible so as not to poison myself and people around me with useless negativity. So perhaps I see the bad stuff as less worthy of airtime to all but my closest friends and family. Those conversations, the ones with tears and swearing, happen face to face or over the phone and are, generally, not suited for general consumption! They need to be accompanied by hugs and kisses and immediate feedback that this, too, shall pass. I do write about personal struggles – getting sick and cancelling auditions, for example – but those posts are, as they say, all about me, not my colleagues or workplace.

So maybe this blog doesn’t represent the life of a stereotypical aspiring opera singer, but this is my life. Stereotypical in some ways, unique in many others. And, hopefully, an interesting read.


Chris Foley said...

Since it's a good bet that many classical music blogs get on average more hits and page views than artist or company sites, a google search for an artist may easily yield somebody else's blog entries. My rule of thumb is to post relatively positive things about people or companies, or nothing at all. On the other hand, this medium has the capability to market classical music and artists very effectively.

Chris from the Collaborative Piano Blog

Anonymous said...

Being in the "family" group that this was started for, I continue to be dazzled by all your voices, your dulcet tones on stage, your thoughful prose on this blog, and your warm laugh and stormy tears face to face. I feel lucky to be a part of it all, L

southern gal said...

i have admired the tone of your blog since i found it (i think at canadienes!) and have always enjoyed reading your experiences appreciating your diplomacy. However, your writing still gives a very good peek into your world and is fascinating.

here's hoping you continue to share with us as you move forward on your path!

chiquita said...

I second this, and I, for one, love to read about the positive things going on in a career.

ACB said...

Thanks, everybody, and thansk for reading!

Canadian Basso said...

Hear, hear. Having read countless singer autobiographies, there is PLENTY of interesting content to an opera singer's life, without going into messy detail. The autobio that convinced me to go public personally, was Ezio Pinza.

During the second world war, Pinza was the leading bass at the Met. During this time, a jealous American bass denounced Pinza to the FBI as a fascist spy, to get him out of the way. Pinza spent months on Ellis Island (the guantanamo bay of the period), fighting the fictional charges. The modern analogy is having your cover denounce you as a foreign terrorist to Homeland Security.

And despite the hell that this American bass put Pinza through, his name is never mentioned in the autobiography. In fact, not one b|tchy comment about anyone appears in the entire book... and it remains a fascinating read.

So I decided, like you, that I could blog about my career building efforts, hopefully without stepping on any toes along the way. We shall see, but I hope that singers like you and I turn out to be right!

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