‘Do what?’ you may well ask. I mean why do we blog? This is a question that I have asked myself many times, both inside what I rather generously call my brain and also in public, in occasional posts here. I’ve become much more regular in my blogging habits over the past eighteen months or so, but have never considered myself to be prolific. But I’ve had my moments, and you’ll shortly be seeing the start of one of those. We are currently in the month of November (a little PSA for anyone who hadn’t yet noticed) which, as many of you may know, is the ‘official’ month for National Blog Posting Month, or #NaBloPoMo to give it its acronym. No, I have no idea either who decided on this, or in which country it is the ‘national’ month: I’m guessing the US, as they claim everything, but I may be wrong. Anyway, the idea of this is that the hapless blogger commits to posting something every day for this month. I know some of you do that anyway, but I think you’d probably soon recognise a falling off in quality of posts if I did it – a point I made in the original piece. So it may surprise more recent followers to learn that I did actually take part in this twice, back in 2014 and 2015: the gap since then might suggest that I have needed a while to recover. One of the pieces I wrote in 2015 was my attempt at answering the question which is today’s heading. I reposted it a year later but it hasn’t seen the light of day since then, so I thought I’d dust it down and share it again. It was actually the first of two pieces I wrote on this subject in 2015, so I’ll be sharing the companion piece again soon – for the sake of completeness, if nothing more. This is what I said back then, originally published on 3 November 2015:
WRITING FOR FUN
As you may have begun to suspect, I have committed myself to participate in the annual marathon that is National Blog Posting Month, or #NaBloPoMo as it as known. This requires bloggers to post something every day during November. Many of the blogs I follow do that, and in some cases more than once each day, but I don’t usually. Why? Because I simply don’t have enough to say that is even of interest to me, let alone inflicting it on you! So, for me, this is a real challenge. I have a long list of draft ideas for posts that I have made in the three years that I’ve been doing this, many of which may never see the light of day, but it is a useful fallback for when I have an occasional fit of insanity and commit myself to something like this. I’ll be sharing some of them with you in the remaining days of November. Only 27 to go!
For today – Day 3 – I thought I’d write about writing. Why do we do it? What do we get out of it? Does anyone care? I won’t rehash my reasons for starting this blog, which you can see on my About Me page and in numerous posts, but why do I write at all? The obvious answer is: because I can. I was lucky enough to have a good education which engendered in me the love of books and everything about them. I read fairly widely, and was always in jobs which required me to write on a regular basis. When I retired I promised myself that I would write purely for fun, and I have done this a fair bit, though nothing like as much as I expected. Natural indolence conquers all! I would like to try my hand at short story writing, and have some ideas for this but I haven’t taken the plunge yet. Maybe I will, and share something with you one day. Just don’t hold your breath, please! I have a dream that I may actually get something published at some point, although I am realistic enough not to expect to make my fortune at this. Having seen this from the great Dr Samuel Johnson:
“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for the money.”
perhaps I should give up now? Or perhaps I should just accept that I am a blockhead and carry on as I am, safe in the knowledge that my limitations have been pre-ordained! An early 20th century quotation does, however, give me the perfect excuse:
“If you want to get rich from writing, write the sort of thing that’s read by persons who move their lips when reading.”
That is attributed to Don Marquis, an American journalist and author. In modern day terms, that would presumably be writing for the Jeremy Kyle brigade, although their almost universal lack of teeth would likely cause damage to the books from extraneous spray. The quote does however make an important point: that writers should always keep their audience in mind, especially if it is essential in making a living. But I don’t need to earn a living, I have my pension, so I can do what I like, right? I rejoice in the good news that I don’t have to dumb down for a mass audience. Then again, if I’m honest with myself, I’m probably not starting from a high baseline anyway! There is clearly a balance to be achieved, though: if you are writing for a living, you must of course produce for your audience, but does that mean that you can’t enjoy the act of writing, of creating something? I would never describe anything I have ever written as art, but there is a process involved in the creation of a piece of art, music, literature etc. And if the creator doesn’t enjoy that then perhaps they are doing the wrong thing with their life? If I don’t enjoy writing, I’ll stop. If I am the only audience for what I write, then so be it. That won’t have prevented me from enjoying the time I have spent on it, nor should it – for any writer, whatever the reason that they write.
I follow many bloggers and read quite a lot of them on a regular basis. With some of them the reason that they do it is very clear – particularly with the more commercially oriented. There is nothing wrong with that, provided that it is done honestly and openly. With others, it is less clear. Some appear to have a need for self-publicity, which is an accusation which can be levelled at anyone who blogs, and I include myself in that. There is an undeniable buzz seeing your writing on a computer screen, knowing that people anywhere in the world can read it, especially when it results in an exchange of comments and thoughts with other bloggers. Some seem to be blogging as a way of reaching out to others, either to help or be helped. Again, absolutely nothing wrong with that: it is, after all where I came into the Blogosphere!
So, dear fellow blog reader, why do YOU do it? Do tell, I’d love to know!
I leave you today with some more words of wisdom from Dr Johnson:
“Read over your compositions, and wherever you meet with a passage which you believe is particularly fine, strike it out.”
You had better read this piece quickly, then, before I delete it! 😉
Reading that piece again the thought struck me that, as I hadn’t deleted it, I clearly didn’t believe it met Dr Johnson’s criterion of being ‘particularly fine!’ It also occurred that the thought process behind that post (and its follow up, coming soon) was very much geared towards the act of writing, rather than what being part of the wider blogging community might mean for us. That isn’t a question that I would fail to address if I were writing that post now – it’s too important as part of the answer for me to my own question.
How about you?