In this blog I open up my Karate life to public scrutiny. Or do I? Am I really presenting a true and accurate account of my journey? I’m sorry, but the answer is no. I remember very vividly the first lecture in my first college class in my major – Introduction to Mass Media. We were taught that every single time we point a TV or film camera at something, we are excluding everything else. We were taught that, in a way, we lie to people without intending to. I must admit that I do leave some things out of my blog.
Most of the time when I write an autobiographical post I set a lighthearted and sunny tone. Maybe I make my journey sound like it’s always a walk in the park. Sometimes I wonder if my breezy writing is a dis-service to my target audience (working adults who can’t imagine themselves starting a martial art). My audience does need to know there are tough things to deal with while one is studying a martial art. But on the other hand, who wants to wallow in the mire? A good many of the things I don’t want to reveal are dark things I generated myself. Usually I’ll write about them only after I’ve already overcome them. But some of these things involve other people and are nobody’s dang business except for the people who are directly involved.
When it comes to writing about other karateka who are a part of my journey, I am cautious. I respect people’s privacy. If I have a conflict with them I don’t bring it up on my blog. If I am writing an anecdote, I try to make sure that I don’t interject anything negative into my portrayal of that other person or people. As I get more and more involved in the functioning of the Karate organization that I belong to, I must be even more careful. I must not overstep my bounds – I do not hold any authority to speak for my dojo or organization. There are things that are best left with those who are in leadership. Every once in a blue moon I will tackle an underlying social issue that my dojo or organization happens to be dealing with. But the vast majority of posts about broader issues have not had anything to do with anything specifically related to my dojo or organization. Most of the time with such posts, I simply had a flash of insight into a general issue or common situation.
Sometimes I’ll test the waters before I write about a social issue that either affects martial arts or is endemic to martial arts. I’ll private message a friend or two. Maybe I’ll post to more friends on Facebook. Other times I’ll leave a comment on someone else’s post and read the responses. I rarely post on forums, but that can be a good way to generate ideas and get a feel for where the topic might lead. This strategy has yielded gold in the past. But one time, it bombed. Even though I was able to express myself a lot better in six paragraphs than in six sentences, I’m not sure I’ll ever re-visit the draft I wrote while I was watching the responses appear. Oh well, I’ve got plenty more material.
Discarding material, omitting things, and shying away from some topics is a part and parcel of writing in general. To be honest, having more material than one could or should use is preferable to writer’s block! Yet leaving things out does affect my blog. Sometimes I feel like I’m presenting a “Disney” version of Karate. I know huge chunks missing from the account of my journey. And yeah, I get the occasional rotten tomato lobbed my way, so I leave some things alone afterwards. Yes, I admit to using smoke and mirrors. But on the other hand, I think my blog is better off for all the posts I have not written. Who wants to read negative stuff? People who don’t respect others’ privacy are generally not popular. Not to mention I dislike rotten tomatoes, deserved or not, so I do my best to avoid them. All in all, I think I prefer the consequences of trying to do the right thing over the potential consequences for all the posts I’ve never written.