Tuesday, 6 January 2009
On Blogging 1: style and attraction
I don’t much like the word. It comes from weblog but it sounds like blagging and plugging and bigging, and, as one literary website has it, Bleeugghing. The word isn’t attractive but the activity is worthwhile. Why?
I had no particular intention of writing a weblog originally. A site was suggested and I was asked what areas I would like in it. What I said then is, more or less, what you see on the site. The News was supposed to be simply a kind of listings. If anyone was interested it would tell them that I was going to do this or that public event. I tacked on Notes without a clear idea what that would be, just thinking it might be good to have a spare pocket or shelf. I still don’t quite know its proper purpose because the News section soon developed into a journal of thoughts and observations that, or so I first thought, I was chiefly writing for myself. Occasionally there would be, and is, a crop of events to list, but something else took over. Now it is a conventional blog.
I am a writer. I mean constitutionally a writer, meaning I write myself into a kind of written existence. My full existence therefore is, partly, a written existence. The old woman who said How do I know what I think till I see what I say? was a very wise old woman. How do we know what we think until we set it down and strive to develop it. Before that there are instincts, reactions, quick formulations that pass for thought. I am also, by nature, a fast thinker, sometimes faster than is comfortable. When compressed into the discipline and rhythms of poetry that can be useful. In terms of thinking through it can be too fast. The sheer manners of writing down thoughts slows and refines.
That is the reason I keep the blog up. I would not be writing a diary otherwise, and have only intermittently kept one (I found my 1996 Arizona diary on Sunday!) I like the brief flight of thought, the part poetic registering of sensory and other experience. All that will be obvious.
There was the question of language, the mode, if you like, of address. I think in most cases blogs – the interesting ones – mark out an interesting new hybrid territory of writing, somewhere between a column, a letter, and an intervention in a conversation. The best are not as formally public as a column (or a review), not as chatty as one kind of letter or as formal as another, but somewhat more formal, because more deliberate, than an intervention in a conversation. That, at least, is how I think, this particular blog has evolved.