Thursday, February 28, 2008

Why Do I Blog?

I have a friend who I can count on for his ability to argue with just about any point I make. It's not so much that we disagree about most things, but rather that we both enjoy the back-and-forth of a spirited debate. For me these discussions serve the purpose of helping me hone and articulate my beliefs and ideas. Usually the stakes are relatively low, and each conversation is put aside in turn to make room for the next one. But the other night we got on the subject of this blog, and he explained that he rapidly skims through the first few sentences of each post, and moves on quickly if it doesn't interest him. Generally I expect that most people do the same, and that it is a rare occasion when someone takes the time to read it carefully and consistently. Because I have this expectation, I don't spend much time worrying about what other people think of what I write.

Yet when confronted with the opportunity to get specific face-to-face feedback about someone's perceptions of my writings, I seized the chance. My friend has recently completed a degree in journalism, and so considers himself a bit of an authority on the topic. He had apparently given some thought to the matter and had some suggestions for me. His main offering was that I should use shorter paragraphs. His view is that the format I use can be excessively dense, and that my posts would be better served if I broke them up into smaller blurbs. He advised that I should read for style, and even employ word counts to determine what is most effective in conveying a series of points. In his opinion, the reader should be compelled to keep reading even if he/she has an initial lack of interest in the specific content of a piece.

While I appreciated his insights, I'm not certain what weight to apply to his advice. I don't consider myself a journalist, nor do I view blogs as inherently journalistic in their purposes. But if I don't think of these writings in those terms- then what are they? What's my point? Should I adapt the conventionally taught format and style of mainstream American journalism?

In the time that I have been keeping this blog, I've tried to veer away from being too self-referential. Yet I see the validity in addressing these concerns. Why and for whom do I write a daily blog? First and foremost I write for myself. I don't get paid to blog, so I'm not overly concerned with critical reaction or the size of my readership. Each and every day I decide to write on a topic that strikes me as particularly compelling. I write about what I am interested in, and I value my freedom more than thematic consistency. I believe that it's a beneficial exercise- somewhat like thinking aloud, but with a bit more structure. Obviously I intend to make it available to a generalized, anonymous audience. That's a key point of the entire blogging concept. But most critically, it's for me to be engaged in writing and organized thought everyday.

For some reason I am intuitively drawn to an essay structure. That's probably because I have spent so much time in academia, in one capacity or another. I am not personally compelled to choose reading material that is broken into many small paragraphs. I guess I prefer the density and involvement of having to commit to a piece of writing. It feels like a more substantive journey. Maybe it's the sign of an elitist mentality, but I'm not interested in pandering to the convention of keeping things short and directly-to-the-point. Perhaps that explains why I prefer William Faulkner over Ernest Hemingway. If I want to engage in minimalism, then I'll write poetry. However... having noted all of this, I don't want to react with an outright rejection of my friend's input. It might benefit me if I explored less rigid compositions on this blog. Some people might enjoy the consistency of my style, and others may find it monotonous.

I am aware that I am alone in being interested in 100% of the content of Serendipity. I am filling no specific niche in the mediasphere. Certainly time in our contemporary age is at a premium. If you take the time to read my blog regularly (or at all), then I appreciate it. If you respond with a comment online (or in person) I benefit even more from the feedback. There is a lot that I could do to make this an appealing destination to a set segment of society. I could identify a specific demographic, and tailor my style to it. I could even strive to build a wider audience, although I'm not sure that would improve my overall experience. Somehow I am not sure that I am providing any definable service to anyone. Still I perceive value in what I am doing. If others do as well, then I am grateful. But that's not why I continue to write.



Blogger Dagrims said...

I like the third paragraph best.

9:41 PM  
Blogger jefg99 said...

I found this very interesting; and, I finished the entire essay.:-)

Writing every day to keep life interesting and vital. It's much like what a lot of people are doing on Flickr with their 365 day projects. Take one photo a day, minimum. It says much about a person.

8:53 AM  

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