I spent a long weekend house sitting for a friend recently. “Make yourself at home,” she said before leaving. Two minutes later I decided there were two chances of that happening: None and none at all. Despite the high-tech spacious interiors, her home is not a home, it’s an art installation designed to frustrate.
Echoes reverberating off arched ceilings and chrome finishings zapped my normally placid seven year-old into a hyperactive space cadet. When she wasn’t trying to kill herself by swinging out of the floating staircase, or jumping off the breakfast bar the height of a van, she was tap dancing her way through the ceramic white noise barrier squiggling crayons along walls that are no longer flawless.
But all this was as nothing compared to the dishwasher. What kind of a sadist would programme a labour saving device to wail like a car alarm when finished? I was forced to get up in the middle of the night to engage in a domestic with the bastard’s nagging creation. And this, after stumbling three flights down in darkness fingering walls for discreetly placed light switches impossible to find without first turning them on.
Even when I knew how something worked, it invariably argued back at me. Negotiating the security system was worse than negotiating with my daughter. At least she can be reasoned with occasionally. All the security system could do was squawk: “Invalid operation … try again … invalid operation … try again …" until I was ready to throttle it.
So, why am I telling you all this? Because I can. It’s my blog and I’ll write what I want to. That’s the beauty of blogging. It’s your own bit of interweb space for posting and sharing anything – a poem, a news item, or a dear diary type entry such as the one above. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that blogging gets you writing, encourages you to be creative, and if you’re lucky, it might even attract the attention of publishers. It happens. Judith O’Reilly’s blog started in 2005, for example, was published in 2008.
For many people, a blog begins life as an outlet for abstract thoughts and opinions or a way of recording experiences and memories in order to make sense of them. What I’ve written here may make its way into an essay one day and then again maybe not. I don’t know because weeks later I’ve yet to figure out where I’m going with it, if anywhere. What I do know is that it’s driving me nuts and I need – no – must get rid of it in order to clear head space so I can get on with the stuff that I do know what to do with.
But of course real bloggers already know this. I say ‘real’ because up until a few months ago I didn’t blog. In fact,I avoided blogs like the plague. The main reason for this was because I believed it would squander my already precious creative writing time. It doesn’t. Far from it. Instead the opposite happens. It frees you up to write more, well, freely and connects you to other writers. Writing regularly and making connections through blogs is like chatting with friends – it relaxes you. And talk, as they say, is medicine. The same goes for readers. What was it C.S. Lewis said? Oh, yes, here it is: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
In Brenda Ueland’s fabulous book , she states what she learned from teaching a wide variety people from all kinds of backgrounds: “Everybody is talented because everybody who is human has something to express. Try not expressing anything for twenty-four hours and see what happens. You will nearly burst.”
Creative power and imagination is in everyone and so is the need to express it, i.e. to share it with others, says Ueland, and yet so many people who want to write don’t. Now why is that? Here’s Ueland’s answer: “People who try to write (and all people long to, which is natural and right) become anxious, timid, contracted, become perfectionists, so terribly afraid that they may put something down that is not as good as Shakespeare.”
In other words they fear criticism and blogging is one way of overcoming this fear. Or as Wife in the North puts it: “Feel the fear and blog anyway.”
Which reminds me. The other thing I’ve discovered about blogging is that so long as it’s engaging in some way, nobody cares about perfect polished typo-free blog entries. In fact, one of the biggest attractions of blogging is its spontaneity.
What about you? What are your thoughts on blogging? I’d love to hear them.
In the meantime, check out the following writers’ blogs snatched at random from my regular reading list and organised in no particular order:
PS. If you’re thinking about starting a blog or you want to find out how to better promote the one you already have, then you might want to check out award winning blogger Hazel Gaynor’s online course available at INKwell Writers’ Workshops .
First published on writing.ie 2011