Sunday, August 3, 2014

August 3 2014. What do you do when you can’t think of something to blog about?

“Blogging is to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud.”

Andrew Sullivan

For most of human history, all published writing had been carefully inspected, edited, and approved.

In the last decade, blogging has turned the publishing world on its head. A blog allows you to write and publish anything, from anywhere, and have it be immediately available to billions of people all around the world.

This means that blogging is uniquely “alive”, as Andrew Sullivan points out in The Atlantic. I, for one, am happy to embrace the chaos and vitality.

The issue is not whether I can think of ideas. So much is happening in this fascinating world of ours that I can always think of something to write about.

The issue that concerns me is balance. I have a tendency to want to write about economic and social issues to excess—both because there is so much to write about and because I am so concerned—whereas  I think this blog is stronger and more entertaining if I vary the content, yet anchor it around writing and creativity in general. I throw in stuff on aviation, weaponry, technology, and the like because such subjects interest me—and I also cover them in my thrillers.

I don’t know that for sure. Essentially, I am flying on instinct.

Though it is not a journal, I still hope that this blog gives—over time—a real insight into a working author’s mind (including diverse interests). At times, the content may be too revealing—but I have reached an age where I am prepared to take that risk. I don’t have the ego I once had for a whole host of reasons called life—and I increasingly accept that risk is innate in communication. When you communicate you make yourself vulnerable, and thus open to be hurt—sometimes badly. A writer has to decide whether the game is worth the candle—and be prepared to display courage. Sometimes I am. Sometimes I don’t display enough. I’m working on it.

I am somewhat surprised that I comment as much about writing as I do. Historically, I haven’t been particularly analytical about it. In fact, even when I was planning to give up the rewards and security of a successful business career, I didn’t spend much time thinking about what writing really meant—let alone its attendant way of life. If I had, it wouldn’t have made any difference. I didn’t know enough then to know what I didn’t know—let alone what I needed to know.

Besides, my call to write was more an epiphany—an imperative that could not be refused. I don’t recall a blinding light and heavenly voices—but a nearby gas cylinder warehouse blew up and sent a chunk of shrapnel into my desk. If I had been there, I would have been decapitated. Fortunately, the explosion happened in the small hours. I took that as a hint to get started on writing before some arbitrary event took me out of the picture. To have been killed before writing a single book would have really pissed me off. If I get killed now at least I’ll be leaving behind a body of work—ten books and about 700 blogs—and, of course, my body. Strange the way we leave our bodies behind. You would think it would be more efficient if we just vanished when we died. Mind you, I’m not sure that Earth was constructed around the concept of efficiency.

However, blogging tends to foster introspection and I have become very aware of how much help prospective authors need. I don’t have one particular author in mind. Instead I have been strongly influenced by the numerous e-mails I have received from writers asking for help. Such communications make me flash back to when I was starting—and let me tell you, I empathize. It is very hard to keep going when you have sold nothing, published nothing. You feel you have no respect—and self-respect becomes an issue. In fact, my heart breaks at times—and I wish I could do more.

Soon I will be doing more. I’m featuring a major section on writing in my new website. It is a much revised version of one I featured on previous websites—which proved extraordinarily popular (which I now wish I had kept up).

When will that be up? Watch this space. It should be fairly soon now. It is already written. Now it is down to my technical competence (which is not what it might be). Fortunately, website construction has been made vastly easier over the last couple of years.

Wish me luck.

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