Tag Archives: whats in a name?

Mavens of the Unknown: in which nin thinks about blogging


Mom, I made us a blog.

(Gulp. Now we’ve done it. Made the leap.)

What’s it called?

Maven Haven.

(Oh, no. That was my idea, but now I’m not so sure. It’s catchy, I think, but does it sound a little arrogant? But it’s a fait accompli, the deed is done, the die is cast, here’s hoping for the best).

First, some stream of consciousness thoughts on blogs and blogging.

I have mixed feelings about the “I, I, I”-ness of blogs. I sometimes get irritated with people who (I feel) overshare on Facebook and aren’t blogs like Facebook entries on steroids?  Some of the words of Emily Dickinson’s poem pop into my mind, with a twist:

I’m nobody, who are you?

Are you nobody, too?

How dreadful to be somebody,

How public, like a BLOG.

Blogging is putting it right out there; you hit publish and it’s there for anyone to read. Maybe there’s a way to edit or retract a post, but, digital immigrant that I am, I don’t know how. And they say no one is reading it anyway. So why bother to do it at all in the first place?  For me, blogging is a practice, a discipline; it is putting on the writing miles with a purpose; like weight watchers with words, it holds you accountable. Blogs are a bridge between freewriting and a personal essay, a way to discover what you think and to practice making your thoughts clear. Plus, the fact that no one will read it is liberating and the thought that someone might is exciting.

This brings us back to maven-ry. Webster’s dictionary defines a maven as one who is experienced or knowledgeable (also a freak). Well, the former has a presumptuous tinge and the latter a little Asperger-y. But the Yiddish roots add this spin: one who understands, based on an accumulation of knowledge. And in The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell calls mavens those who are intense gatherers of information and impressions and adds that mavens work well with connectors (those who have a wide network of casual acquaintances by whom they are trusted).  Now we have more to work with.

What right do I have to call myself a maven? Maybe none. Maybe Maven-in-training would be more accurate. Maven-in training Haven doesn’t have the same ring to it, though. Then again, between us, Vicky and I have nearly fourscore years of living as accumulated experience, we both seek to understand, and truth be told, fit the weird quality of the definition, too. (Who isn’t weird?  The older I get, the more I relish being me the way I am and don’t worry if other people think it’s strange.  I always liked Louisa’s plea in The Fantasticks: please God, don’t let me be ordinary.) But I digress.

Back to the definition: where better than the web to find connectors and connections? True, trust (and true trust) must be earned, and that leads us full circle back to the purpose of the blog. The blog is not a place to show off knowledge, but a chance to work with words each day, a place (a HAVEN, a refuge) to explore ideas and thoughts, and to offer them up in that effort of faith that says, here I am and here’s a notion and what do you think?

Rilke says, “We must learn to love the questions themselves.” It strikes me that the thing I am expert in is asking questions, and that we are all mavens of the unknown.