Most people will tell you that a blog is meant to offer something of value to readers, the idea being to satisfy, and grow, one’s following. Many blogs read like a recount (‘What I’ve been up to…’), usually underpinned by a healthy dose of self-promotion, admittedly a necessity in today’s industry. I’m not really interested in these things. So why the hell am I blogging?
Simple answer: I have no idea. But I think it has something to do with why I write: to find clarity and connectedness. That’s the theory, at least.
I grew up quickly in the Bronx although I didn’t realise how quickly until many decades later. It was a time when children were often left to their own devices; today they’re left to their literal ones. Yes, I saw the good in people, but life constantly reminded me that the bad was always just a few steps away. I escaped into books, letting the words (and my imagination) transport me to a more pleasant reality. Perhaps I was simply trying to read ahead in the hope that the story had a happy ending and the characters weren’t doomed to the nether lands (cue Dan Fogelberg) with no hope of resolution, let alone change.
Nearly every blog I’ve read lately – and I confess I don’t read many – seems to be a litany of events: I did this, then I did that, I’m eating this, reading that, thinking about these things, my new book is due out soon. (Ed: I’ll soon be forced to succumb to the latter.) Would I sound unreasonable if I said that I don’t care all that much? Do most people? My blogs don’t follow this approach because I’m convinced that no one would have more than a passing interest (if that) in hearing what I’ve been up to. Maybe I’m the issue.
For the record: I’m juggling You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce, Extinctions by Josephine Wilson, and one of my favourites, Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion. I’m meant to be heading north for a much-needed holiday in August but our trip is likely to be cancelled, thanks to COVID, as it was this time last year. My play, Fragments will soon be released in paperback. (It’s been available online through Australian Plays Transform since early this year.) I’m working on a non-fiction project close to my heart, and a community based one that will launch soon.
Back to the point 🙂
The thought of writing a blog to a prescribed timeframe doesn’t appeal to me; neither does the idea of structuring it around a theme or formula. My mindset can change with the wind and imposing these elements would make the blog seem like an expectation or chore. I prefer outpourings that are more spontaneous in nature; I blog when I’m motivated to say something, even if I’m not sure what that is when I first set out to write. For me, writing is like weaving. I know what materials to use, though sometimes the threads are warped, or there’s too much tension. But I have no idea what I’m making – a shawl to hide under, a rug to tread over, a scarf to keep warm? Hell, I don’t even know the damn colours half the time. That’s the beauty of weaving, and writing: the art of blending, of creating something new.
When I write, I’m trying to make my own connections, to clarify my thoughts and emotions. When it comes to memoir, that’s tough, because events unfolded so long ago, and memories take on a new shape both in the recollection and retelling. Driving all this is a desire to tackle big ideas – social, cultural, medical, philosophical (I’m not picky) – to unpack competing concepts and principles, to derive meaning from complexity. And though I don’t set out to do this specifically in my blog, I hope to share musings that enable readers to know me a bit more – not because they’ve learned that my reading tastes are eclectic, or that I prefer savoury to sweets (Red Rock Deli Grilled Yakitori Chicken and Shallots are my new fave potato chips), or some other mundane fact. But because they’ve gained some insight into how my brain works, and doesn’t work, and what motivates me to put pen to paper.
Time for some chips.