What is a blog? A soapbox; an un-syndicated column, a pet project? Is it a virtual voice in the ether of 21st century life? An exercise in narcissism? A public diary? A—Dare I say it?—platform for one’s artistic machinations in a society where art has so many venues but so little recognition?
I’ve been thinking about this, for whatever it is worth (ahem!). Why? Partly because lately I’ve been chatting with so many writer friends about their blog and hearing comments such as: “Yeah, I find it hard to keep going with that” and “I’m behind on my blog” and “There are so many blogs out there…what do I have to say every week?”
When I first heard that term—i.e. “Writers should blog”—I confess I was struck by a mental image of a bog…something dark and sticky; a murky quagmire in the off-the-beaten-track countryside; a place to get stuck.
Well. Not far off the mark, I sometimes think, especially when I am sitting at my desk trying to devote precious, miserly slots of time to my next novel, which is three-quarters done. Why get “stuck” in a blog of undefined purpose and pleasure when the real passion of authors—our books—often become the neglected stepchild of this crazy, over-busy work life? Why not forgo the whole blog thing and just do the real art?
Or is the blog the main form of art, and the book the…well…other art? After all, how often can one produce a book? Look how often one can produce a blog…
Not the point, I have decided, leading in fact to this particular blog entry. Think of the catchy truism from the Southern California Writers Conference: “Write More, Suck Less.” Is it true, then, that a blog may be the fitness center of a writers’ soul: the place where we flex our muscles, produce the sweat that fans our mental and physical health, and prevent osteoporosis? Let us not forget that working out at the gym is also fun and social (at least allegedly; I’m still waiting for the “fun” part).
But maybe a blog is none of the things mentioned above. Maybe I’m overthinking this. Blogging could be simply a playground for Lovers of Words. We are Word-Shufflers, after all; folks who love to put Words on a canvas and hang it on a wall. Maybe the Internet is a Wall, and our blog a filled or partly filled canvas.
I know I am asking questions without answering them. Sorry. I have always had more questions than answers. And on this subject, I’m not sure the answers matter. A blog is above all personal; it means different things to different people. It means everything, and nothing.
A blog may even be a small bid for immortality, for all I know. Though of course none of us is immortal and all of us count, right?
This morning I was listening to an audiobook of The Mummy Chase, by Elizabeth Peters, when I heard a phrase that resonated for me: two sentences leaping off a theoretical page to wrap themselves around my mind and heart, just like a blog might, could, should do. “Art cannot exist in a vacuum,” Peabody Emerson wrote in a fictional diary to an imaginary audience that doesn’t even exist in the World of this specific novel. “Creative spirit must possess an audience.”
Love it. Thanks Elizabeth Peters!
How fascinatingly complex—and simple—it all is. A writer writes.
So be it.