Monday, October 19, 2009

Why am I here? I mean: HERE

Quoting the aforementioned Jim Wright somewhat out of context, he said today:

“Rarely, if ever, does a blogger make a living from blogging. There’s no payoff to blogging. The only reason to do it at all, unless you’re nothing but a narcissistic bastard, is that interaction with the readers.”

As this blog has something of a void in the reader interaction department, I think this may mean I’m a narcissistic bastard. This has led me to the standard Exactly Why Am I Blogging If Nobody Is Reading Me post.

Something else has led me to it, too – and I think I’ll find my answer in the intersection of the two lines of the thought. The second is a play I just saw – a musicalization of the 1912 young adult novel Daddy Long Legs. The premise for the play is that an orphan is given the opportunity to go to college, thanks to an anonymous benefactor, but Mr. Anonymous requires that the young lady write him monthly reporting on her life in college. Well, as these stories go, the benefactor isn’t exactly as represented and … no matter. The point is, she’s writing her intimate thoughts during her college years to a total stranger.

You know, I wrote my parents fairly often during my first year of college. Afterward, my mom bound up the letters in a booklet called something like, “My First Year At College (or at least, what I told my parents)” and gave it to me. I was kind of angry about this (sorry, mom) but was really able to explain why I couldn’t stand the fact that she’d saved the letters and given them back to me. I can now – by the end of that first year I felt like a different person than I had been at the start, and I was a bit embarrassed by the person who, at the start of the year, still dotted her “i”s with little circles (and then moved on to the “more adult” technique of omitting the dots altogether -- I actually thought about this shit then). Even the letters themselves were young – they were attempts at adult perception and commentary, but they were largely how I’d thought adults looked at things. And they had been written with the intent that my parents read them and then throw them the hell out. Posterity for this stuff wasn’t my intent – and I was mortified that the letters still EXISTED, and that they were all bundled up together – all that ignorance and awkwardness and attempts at adult posturing staring at me.

(Of course, now, more than 20 years on, it would be pretty cool to get a look at those letters and see what was going on inside my little Freshman head – but it takes a couple decades of distance to see what the value is, and REAL adult confidence to accept my own youthful silliness for what it was.)

Which somehow leads me back to why I blog. I know my parents read this, (possibly my sister), a few of my of my real world friends, and a few internet friends as well. (I’ve been told I have a few lurkers – “Hi, lurkers!” – but not loads.) I’ve yet to have a post that really “catches fire” on the web – and while the part of me that is a narcissistic bastard thinks that might be kinda cool – that isn’t why I’m here.

So, why am I here? Well, it’s certainly a CONVENIENT way of keeping up with friends and family who don’t live nearby. Anyone who wants to know what’s up with me is more than welcome to drop by and read about my daily existence. (And, unlike those letters in college, this *is* intended for public consumption. Sorry, but the public censor is turned on, folks. Hmm, I hope that other post doesn’t screw up any possible confirmation hearings in my future.)

Also, it’s a great tool for me. I think things out with writing. (Which happens to be extremely convenient for my job.) If there’s something bothering me, something going on that I just can’t figure out, I can blog about it and it somehow gets straightened out for me in the process. Or, if there’s something really, really pissing me off, writing about it helps get it out of my system, so that I can get on with other business. And when, after I put those thoughts or rants out there, I find kindred spirits – bonus! It's not a community, though -- just a fleeting momentary connection with another person who, on that topic, for that moment, thinks "yes!" (Or even thinks, "no!" and wants to tell me why.)

There’s also the rather unexpected benefit that I’ve picked up by blogging travel. As you know, I travel alone a lot, and journal daily when I'm away. And I’ve discovered that, in a very real sense, “the act of observing affects the observed.” KNOWING that I’m going to be blogging a trip affects the choices I make on a trip. And I find I rather LIKE the choices I make. When I decide to do something because I think it might be fun to write about it, it’s ALWAYS turned out to be fun to do it.

So, yeah. I love having readers. I love having even the POSSIBILITY that I’m being read. But, mostly, I enjoy having the outlet, and I strangely enjoy how the fact that my doings may be observed has actually improved what it is that I’m doing.


Janiece said...

Interesting ideas, and I have to admit that if I didn't have regular readers or commenters, I probably would not be as conscientious about writing as I am. So I admire your diligence in continuing for so long without the positive reinforcement of a blog circle, or a community, or whatever you choose to call it.

For myself, one of the reasons I blog is to force myself out of sloppy thinking. Today, for example, I made a comment on my blog where I was totally talking out of my ass*. One of my regular readers/commenters came along and took me to task for doing so, and explained why I was being sloppy. Such incidents serve to keep me from indulging in knee-jerk reactions, and I appreciate the fact that my community corrects me gently, with affection and respect.

Janiece said...

*One of those torches and pitchforks things. I jumped on the bandwagon without doing sufficient research, so I deserved to be spanked.

Reneem1954 said...

Hope you keep blogging,..I am one of the lurkers. I find your way of writing interesting. I enjoy your trips, your family, cat job, etc. My problem is I am not much of a commentaor. I just love to read good work. (((Hugs))))

Jim Wright said...

Janiece is a baaaaad girl, she deserves to be spanked....

Heh, heh. Sorry Janiece.

nzforme said...

Thanks, Reneem! Nice to know you're out there. :)

Janiece said...

Jim, don't make me come up there.

nzforme, please ignore our bickering. We'd behave better in public, but it's the cornerstone of our relationship.

nzforme said...

Knock yourselves out. It's as good a place as any. :)