What 'Tis To Blog

Life There is a moment that most bloggers experience at some time. They'll be sitting at their computer, fingers poised on the keyboard looking at a blank screen. The curser will flash in and out of view, impatiently waiting for the cue to move across the line with characters in its stead. The blogger will sit looking at that curser, hypnotically watching it blink. As the time ticks by, it will slowly dawn on them that they have absolutely nothing to say.

It isn't all of them. Some bloggers have selected a particular topic for their site and so there is a steady stream of material for them to absorb and report. There are an increasing number who are actually being paid to blog, it's their job and this gives them the impetuous to offer something, even if it is just to publicise a new innovation the company is introducing. But we are talking about the vast majority, those for whom their own lives are the sources they're working from and that thing they want to communicate.

But in this moment their mind has gone blank. They look to see how many people visited the site the day before, and the count is in the low fifties. This gives them even less motivation, because half of those were from people finding the weblog after click through from a search engine when they were trying to find pictures of someone naked. They start to worry that nothing interesting happened to them that day, or has been happening to them for ages, and that to put that into words would be some kind of failure.

Then from seemingly nowhere they'll have a memory of something someone said to them at the breakfast table; or that they read in the newspaper which angered them or didn't make any real sense; falling in love from afar on the bus; meeting someone in the street that day they hadn't seen for a while; the photograph they saw online; an email they read or even a song they heard on the radio.

Their fingers begin to type, letters become words, words become sentences, sentences fill paragraphs. They read back through what's there and it slowly dawns on them that it isn't half bad, one of the best things they've ever written in fact. They check it again for spelling and grammar, then drag their pointer across to the post button on the screen, click and wait. Seconds later the text is published online for all to read. It's another day the blogger hasn't let down their twenty or so loyal visitors, and they resolve to do something exciting on purpose the next day, so that they don't have to experience the same desperation again.

Blogging is a crazy, terrible, exciting, thrilling, annoying, addictive pastime. To begin reading a blog is to open yourself up to experiencing the world through someone else's eyes. But it's in the writing that the change happens, because you know that wherever you go and what you do becomes something you might want to tell the world about. Never has screenwriter Norah Ephron's mother's assertion that 'everything is copy' been more apt. Will Carlough captures the feeling excellently:
'I hate blogs. Blogs, at their best, are people who are well versed in a given subject, giving opinions on that subject so dryly that only the most hardcore fans of the subject can stand to read through it. At their worst, they're exercises in vanity, with people rambling on about nothing, talking about what they had for lunch, and posting stupid pictures of them and their stupid friends.'
He wrote that on 2 October 2004. On his own blog, The Diogenes Club. Every blogger wants to be in the first camp but always has a creeping suspicion they're in the second. Yet they continue to write.

Thank goodness.

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