Thursday, July 24, 2008

Breaking all the rules

A friend and mentor asked me about blogging today. Why do I do it? What do I write about? He's been writing all his life, and is looking for a way to share what he does with the many people who are interested in his wisdom.

I wish I were in his position. For all the years I've known him, he's been sharing thought-provoking bits of philosophy, personal existential reflection, and commentary on current events with his colleagues. He's got a storehouse of ideas and experiences that he could dole out daily for many, many years.

It's only occasionally that I feel like I have something to say through this medium. But then, I didn't start blogging because I had anything to say. If I'm being honest, I started blogging because I wanted to record what my children were doing, and what I thought about it. I knew I wouldn't have the discipline to keep a personal journal -- but maybe if some other people were out there reading and waiting for the next post, I'd be motivated to continue.

My intentions changed when I started blogging daily almost two years ago. I got hooked on the insight about writing -- composing, thinking, constructing, editing -- that blogging every day during NaBloPoMo '06 provided me. If I learned this much about my writing process and my writer's voice from blogging for 30 days, how much would I learn if I kept going?

So my blogging is more about process than content. I do it because writing in this blog teaches me something about myself. I don't do it because I think I'm writing well, or because I think I have a perspective that will enrich other's lives. If I thought that, I doubt I'd continue blogging daily, because I don't write well daily, and it's only on rare occasions that I believe I've gotten at something important or worth saying. I still want to record what's going on with my children as they grow up; I was never good at saving mementos or taking enough pictures or video. But I don't want to write about that every day, either. The only reason to write every day is because writing every day is a worthwhile thing for me to do.

That means it's doubly and triply kind of all of you to stop by. I don't intend to give you anything through this blog; it's not for you, ultimately, nor do I believe there's that much I have to give. So you readers are a gift to me that I have no way to repay.

If you blog ... why do you do it? If you don't ... why not?


Eric Grubbs said...

I started Theme Park Experience in October 2004 as a way to keep tabs on the progress of my first book, Post. Shortly into blogging, I realized I couldn't talk about the book every single day, and I had a lot of other stuff I wanted to talk about.

At the time, almost every blog I read talked about either the presidential debates or the World Series. Since I didn't care about either of those, I decided to write about stuff I wanted to read. Couple that with reading web sites all throughout college that I didn't agree with their views, but kept reading them because they were the only ones covering stuff I was really into (ie, punk rock, post-hardcore, and indie rock). Somehow it developed from reposting links with short comments into a reflection and analysis of why I said those comments. That kind of analysis and reflection remains to this day.

Why I keep blogging is because I like doing it. It's like exercising (which I like doing five times a week), but with my fingers and a keyboard. After years of feeling like I couldn't express myself without being yelled at because "nobody cares," I found my outlet.

Adam Villani said...

I blog because I had been sending out mass emails to people when I felt like communicating more widely, but blogging enables me to communicate with large numbers of people without annoying them. They only read the things I have to say if they want to.

the secret knitter said...

I think it's fair to say that I keep writing the blog because I enjoy doing it and would otherwise not have the discipline to keep a journal. Some of it is purely to keep track of projects (more of the original purpose), and some of it is to have it for, well, not posterity's sake but just to have it. In a weird way, I think it also forces me to be honest with myself.

I don't know what others get from it, which may be why I feel guilty when I am going through the motions. At least for now, I have no desire to read what I've written. Is that weird?