Before putting anything else on the blog, I wanted to set down some thoughts and ask myself why I wanted to write a blog in the first place.
So you want to be a writer….
To start with, full disclosure: I am one of those people who studied a literature subject for his degree, whose university days are sadly receding far behind, much like his hairline, who finds himself in a perfectly reasonable but fundamentally unsatisfying and humdrum occupation, but who always nurtured an ambition to be a writer… (cringe, how predictable, how pretentious, how unrealistic…)
I mean, just imagine it: to see your name and thoughts and creations in print, to be talked about, perhaps to be admired, to be able to avoid a ‘normal’ office job, to work from home, to explore whatever avenues you want to explore, to enjoy that frisson of high-brow intellect that surrounds anyone who can say they write for a living… sounds wonderful (let’s ignore for now: writer’s block, editor’s and publisher’s demands and deadlines, complying with word limits, the risk of not being admired, fatwas, poor sales, the improbability of being able to turn it into a livelihood that pays for new underpants and colour-catchers and kibble for the miniature pinscher etc. etc.….).
So to start with, a blog is self-publishing: you don’t need to be either formally ‘discovered’ or lucky; you can just make your writing available to the world via the blog. But unlike your self-published masterpiece – My Happy Schooldays at Merchant Failures’ School – 1991-1996 – you won’t be relying on handing out copies to reluctant acquaintances you met on that Saga holiday to Corfu when you’re in your dotage; instead, people will discover you (even if they bounce away immediately: ‘right, no free porn here then’). So I hope that writing a blog will satisfy a (perhaps silly) ambition held for a long time that has not found an outlet yet.
Get closer to the truth, or enjoy yourself trying
The problem with a self-published string of posts, essays, diary-entries and random opinions is that the whole thing might become so self-referential and inward-looking (and poorly written) as to be: boring.
Of course, being boring is an unforgivable social offence. I may well be guilty of it right now. But I hope to be interesting or entertaining to anyone who happens to read the blog entries on this site. I would be delighted if that happened.
But equally importantly for me, anyway, is that one of the reasons someone might want to have other people read what they have to say is to bounce their ideas off them – why, I’ve spent my whole life convinced I’ve always got slightly the wrong idea about most things in life. Running those thoughts past other people – strangers – might serve as a useful corrective (friends and family are far too nice to play that role properly for me): and then, after being doused in the bracing cold sea-water of feedback, I might get a little closer to the truth. Or at least I will be able to say that I am marginally more enlightened than I was before. Or again, some people might find what I say myself instructive or helpful, and that would be a pleasant surprise.
The reality is, while blogging might be a nice alternative to being a proper published writer, there is a good chance nobody will read anything on this site for at least 12 months. Any visitors stumbling across it will browse away after the first few words before it sends them into a coma of profound tedium. That’s how a lot of people use the net: I do it myself – if it’s not interesting, I can get away easily.
And the competition is fierce: blogs/websites I’ve been reading recently include Rod Liddle in the Spectator (http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/author/rod-liddle/), Theodore Dalrymple in the New English Review (http://www.newenglishreview.org/Theodore_Dalrymple/), the always interesting Khmer440.com (http://www.khmer440.com/k/) and the magnificently bloodthirsty and laugh-out-loud-and-do-a-little-wee-in-your-pants Badass (http://www.badassoftheweek.com/index.cgi?archive=1) (on reflection, that list of only four sites out of many that I like to look at arguably reveals quite a lot about myself, my views and my interests). Those are random examples, all are excellent, all would be desperately hard to compete with. And they’re hardly the only websites in the world.
Worst case, my little creation will be a nice place to store all my thoughts - putting your opinions down on paper usefully disciplines and orders them a bit, and allows you to edit out the rubbish (and makes them easier to deploy in a conversation at a later date in pursuit of the dying art of conversation). It will be worth it just to create a glorified filing cabinet for the things I’m interested in. I don’t want the blog to be ‘about’ me necessarily, but inevitably my personal experiences will inform a lot of what I say.
So that’s it, in short: I’m really trying to build a vanity-inspired, online filing cabinet. But it’s unlocked, so feel free to take a look inside!
© Richard M. Aston and www.thedarksmile.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Richard M. Aston and www.thedarksmile.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.