Two things happened in my life recently that took me off the blogging wagon in a huge way:
1) Running, mostly barefoot. Love it, love it, love it. I’ll explain more later.
2) Penelope Trunk. I love/hate her. Every time I read one of her posts I learn something, which is the point of her blog. She even advises us that if we’re not learning something when we blog, wtf are we doing blogging anyway, and if we’re blogging without teaching people anything useful we’re just writing in our diaries and who wants to read that boring drivel? I paraphrase, but I think I’m close.
Man, she’s a great blogger, and a fantastically interesting person, too. She’s done all this really public high-profile stuff and she’s done all of it while being fairly quirky and hard to get along with, which is where I get stuck, and sort of why I live my life behind a computer screen. So she’s fascinating to me, and when she rebuked people for writing about nothing, for diary blogs, for writing posts that give nothing useful to the reader I sort of lost my mojo, what little I had left after reading the one about how you should learn something every time you write a post.
She didn’t mean that in the existential, learning something deep about my inner self something way. So I spent 4 days recently trying to write a post because I was researching studies and research papers and all kinds of things and I forgot what I was fudgeing doing and why I write this blog and that post was crap.
Probably if I asked Penelope Trunk about these posts I’ve read and told her what I took away from them I’d find that I’ve been having a one-way conversation with her and her blog that is very different from the conversation that she would have with me if we were talking. But we’re not, and I live here behind the computer screen.
This is probably a good time to say that I like Penelope Trunk a whole lot, or at least what I know of her online. I read her blog constantly, have learned a crapload from it and I’m challenged by her advice. I even emailed her once and she emailed me right back. I’m saying all this because I’m going to rip on her in a minute.
The thing is no one can decide from their side of the computer screen what is useful to someone on the other side of the computer screen. Maybe Penelope’s satirical experimental post about nothing did prove that for the Brazen Careerist website, her links were less than exciting for her target audience.
While I was writing this post and doing my due diligence to provide links to the posts I mention in this one, I came across another slap on the wrist from Penelope who tells me that I’m not writing this blog for just me and if I wanted just to keep a diary I would keep one on paper and that “blogs without topics are a waste of time”. To Ms Trunk I would say her Gen-X is showing. I haven’t written more than three paragraphs on paper in years.
“Dear Diary: For a few weeks, I lost my blog erection because of some self-appointed blog expert who told me I wasn’t a credible internet writer unless I adhered to a strict set of rules invented by statistics and comment counts but really that doesn’t matter. Someday this giant pile of raw pieces might net a few essays that could turn into something interesting or submittable, and then they’ll all be SORRY! And even if that never happens my kids and family will always have this to remember me by. (like a scrapbook for young people) I’m so glad I have you to talk to, Diary. No one else understands!”
I won’t argue with Ms Trunk here and call this a diary and profess that I don’t care who reads it and whether they think it’s good; obviously that would be a lie. I do care and I do spend quite a while on some posts. I will say though that I don’t think it’s all that necessary right at this moment to pick something and stick with it in order to crank out a quality post. Maybe we, us countless half -in-half out toes in the water writers out there that are just banking up word counts on the internet are just doing that: banking up some word counts for a while, seeing what shakes out.
I don’t see that as a waste or time or a self-delusion at all.