Why Do I Blog? Some Thoughts.

After editing this, it occurs to me it should be two separate posts, both developed more fully, but that’s a lot of work. I’ll try to expand a bit on the “social” aspect, or even the socio-political aspects I allude to, in another posting, and I’ll post this here & now as-is. That way, you get something to snack on, I have less guilt about underproducing, and we both have a happy Friday. ;)

I’m thinking a lot about blogging today, because I’ve been asked to talk to a couple small groups of keeners tomorrow and talk about why I blog, what my process is. I’ve got some thoughts on that, but, I guess I’m ultimately a little unsure what “blogging” has to do with it.

Me, it’s just writing for an audience I have access to. It’s just writing.

We’re lucky these days. We live in an era where having a thought, having a voice, it means something. The world is literally at our fingers.

A thought doesn’t have to die alone in the dark ever again.

Whatever you can think, you can broadcast. It’s the freedom-fighter’s dream. Rousseau, Hobbes, Rimbaud, and all those shit-disturbing writer-thinkers of ages past, oh, how they would have died to have been here, now, with these vehicles of expression before them.

Naturally, people are harnessing these tools for things contrary to my beliefs and values. But that’s when my voice just needs to ring a little clearer, sound out a little louder.

It’s the World v2.0, people.

But is that why I blog? Take a look at my content. Clearly, no.

Novellist Richard Ford says it best–

“Writing for a living is a privilege, not a god-given right. The opportunities are few, though sought-after by many. There are years of rejection, which serve as a crude winnowing process, after which those left standing are those who simply MUST write.”

Me, I must write.

So much so I never have the time or desire to market myself. I don’t need to be paid for something that’s as profoundly a part of me as the air I breathe. Does this make me some incredible read-worthy author? Fucked if I know. Reading is a matter of tastes.

But.

I know I’m good at it. I know I should market it. I know what makes me original. I know I’m not gonna be original for long. There’s a shelf-life on these things. Never has imitation or plagiarism been so easy or potentially profitable as it is today, after all. Bless you, web 2.0.

Let’s be honest, though. I’m one of those lucky writer types who can write fast, well, and with ease. Is it always good? Fuck no. But it generally isn’t hard. Blogging, for me, isn’t a major time commitment. I never spend much more than 45 minutes all told — writing, editing, re-editing — on my average 1,000-word posts. That’s just me. Some people can balance their chequebook lickety-split and I’m left looking like a fucking moron as I try to figure out the numbers. Again, that’s just me. We are what we are.

So, how I blog, there’s no rocket science there. I’m always the semi-aloof, deep-in-thought person who’s processing the world around me. How I blog, and what I blog about, depends how much time I have when an idea hits me.

Unfortunately, Twitter gets in the way of that now, and much of my quick-and-dirty fun little posts have been turned into soundbites in my tweetstream.

But blogging probably saved my life when I kinda needed some saving.

The winter I started blogging, I nearly died in a scooter accident and was housebound on crutches. The accident was only my fault in that I was probably still buzzed from my night of partying that’d only ended 6 hours or so before. I had a lot on my chest. I filled two notebooks with soul-searching and then realized what a self-obsessed wanker I was being.

Blogging, in 2004, was still pretty new. I could write publicly and have an audience, yet protect my anonymity. Sorta.

The difference between writing on a blog and in a journal was, I had to be good enough to be read. I had to stop being so self-focused and find a way to make that a condition others might relate to. Who gives a fuck about ME, after all?

I was in a pretty dark place then, and the darkness just got heavier over the next three years. Blogging, I think, helped me focus on things in a more objective way, dialing into my journalism training, and looking instead at how my condition wasn’t really just mine — that others could, would, and did relate to much that was happening in my life…

But that would only happen if only I would focus instead on the generalisations around my experience, not the specifics. If you turn that evil fight with a lover into a less-specific event that becomes the doorway to abandonment, a lot of people can understand that. Focus instead on just the fight with the lover, that resonance starts to decrease.

Besides, in doing that, I’m protecting myself. None of you need know the specifics of my life. We’re not about details, as much as we think we are. We’re about thought clouds. We act and feel and believe in generalised ways. Whatever we WANT to think we do, we’re not as sophisticated as we delude ourselves that we are.

“Blogging” seems so… underwhelming. I’d like to think this little literary stop on the web is more than just some wordy trend that every ass with a thought is doing now. But only time will tell.