Is it just me (I mean, I'm prepared to believe that, honestly, I've had lots of practice at it being 'just me') or does everybody find it easier to be gushingly honest with praise etc if the recipient is a relative stranger?
Family - okay, family doesn't count and I don't mean worship or adoration (I have an acquaintance on a forum who is being all too familiar with her 'appreciation of me' and it's freaked me out enough to scare me off the site.) It just feels unsafe or improper to express wonderment and honest praise (praise of work, of skill, of a job beautifully done) to anyone you want to continue a conversation with. A bit 'off'.
Is that related to being a fan?
Heres the rub - maybe, when someone's work is truly inspiring, when their poetry hits the page like music, not just any old music but a weeping guitar solo, when the stuff that sings from their pen/keyboard belongs 'up there' with the all time greats, maybe then its easier to NOT be their friend or acquaintance, nor even able to leave them little messages whenever you feel like it.
Honest praise from a distance is somehow safe - however effusive praise from up close takes on connotations, or at very least stops conversation dead. It conjures up the image of a stalker.
Brian E Bengtson (I've said it before) should be the American Poet Laureate. Not in it's current format where it works like a one year teaching post, but in the British manner, where it is a title bestowed for much longer in recognition of skill, of already being 'the voice'.
If the job didn't exist, they should have created it just for him, because if you have ever, ever felt sidelined, terrified, burdened, sick, solitary, then his works are generally beautiful and healing, full of hope and balance and spirituality. They have a lust for life and an empathy that is so rare and farsighted.
Not being poetically educated I have never been able to remark wisely on stanzas or meter, so when Brian publishes on FanStory, I generally just gush. Simply trying to say "I understand where you are coming from" sends me off on one. Others get two or three lines of review out of me, poor Brian gets two or three paragraphs.
So, there I was this morning, backtracking visitors, and someone got here from a search on his name. I went to the page (of course I went to the page, I wanted to know how near the top of the results list I was!) and what do you know - he has gone and set up a blog since the last time I went fawning all over his skill in print.
I've linked it OF COURSE and will follow avidly, but............... I find that I view bloggers with much more familiarity - somewhere between acquaintances and close friends - in general around about the same as part of a team, - work colleagues, even.
So, Dear Brian,
Yes I still come over all Jewish Mother on you when I read your stuff, want to adopt you, tidy up after you, share bitching sessions about other men and drama queens and discuss the finer points of body jewellery. I haven't tried to yet, but if instead my reviews of your work become less frequent or less florid, it's nothing personal. It's just my anal British complex about propriety and not embarrassing the hell out of someone I actually sort of 'know'*. Avoiding overkill. Deal?
*Apart from this time, of course