There’s an interesting set of posts up at Begging to Differ, the second-best blog with the word “begging” in the title. In order: first, second, third. The posts offer some insight into the general blog malaise that’s apparently contagious.
My problem (this time) is less about time to blog than it is something to blog about. As Steve mentioned in the first post, it’s hard to blog well about politics, and as Hei Lun mentioned in the second post, most of the current political topics are boring and/or depressing. Because of my job, I’m reluctant to post about some topics, including a lot of legal topics. And, I don’t want BTQ to become just a diary all about my personal life; I do want some readers, after all.
Scheherazade has a nice post up about writing, and why she writes. It reminded me of an essay in the “Oxford American” a few issues back. The author (I apologize for not remembering her name) discusses the questions she always gets at book fairs and readings of her work: “How do you write?” The questioners usually say they want to be writers, and want to know the secret: typewriter or longhand? morning or night? tea or coffee? What they think is that if they put themselves in the published author’s shoes, the words will come. It’s as if the hard part is deciding between Word and WordPerfect.
For the author of the “OA” essay, and I think for Sherry as well, writing isn’t about how they do it; it’s that they have to do it. It’s something they couldn’t turn off if they wanted. Sherry, like Longfellow before her, is supporting herself as a teacher while she writes. I’m sure that’s better than working at the Custom House.
I’m not sure I would say that writing is a complusion for me, and the mere equivocation in that statement probably means it isn’t. In one respect, I’m lucky, because I write non-stop for my day job, and I really like the medium. I’d prefer an academic position, but it’s not as bad as it could be. So I get most of my writing fix during the day. I find myself composing a lot, thinking in my head about what I’d like to write. But my fingers don’t itch to put it to paper. I’ve never kept a diary or journal, and I don’t have some hidden personal blog no one knows about. (To clarify, I have a couple of other domains, but I don’t post there; I’m just place-holding.) Other than work product and emails, what you see here is pretty much my total writing output.
So maybe I’m not a “writer” in the sense that I must write. But before I started blogging, I wrote lengthy emails to my friends that look like proto-blog-posts. And I would sure hate to give up this outlet. I enjoy writing here for its own sake, regardless of readership — although the feedback is always nice. There are times that blogging feels like a chore, but more often I really enjoy doing it.
Lately, I wish I had been doing more of it. I have annoyed all my friends seeking something to blog about. It reminds me of how Stephen King answers his most frequently asked questions, where he gets his ideas. In some of his work, King has described his mind as a sieve, and horror is what sticks when everything else falls out. I think my sieve has sprung a leak. Nothing’s sticking.