BLOGGING—NOT SOMETHING I THOUGHT I WOULD TAKE TO.
I HAVE LEARNED TO LOVE IT.
WHY DO I WRITE IT? IS IT WORTH THE TIME IT TAKES? WHO DO I WRITE THIS BLOG FOR?
At heart, I suspect I’m a fairly private person. At one stage the primary reason for that was almost certainly because I didn’t want to expose my insecurities. Now that I have learned that I don’t seem to have any more than anyone else—and don’t much mind that I’m not perfect (It came as a shock!), it has more to do with both a desire, and a need, to be left alone so I can work without distraction.
I like people, and can be very social in the right context—like when I’m in the field doing research or having dinner with friends—but absolutely need long periods of uninterrupted time when I am left alone to think, read, and write.
What is a ‘long period of uninterrupted time? Half a day would be the minimum—but I can easily spend a week or more with scant human contact—and not miss it.
It would be very different if I was living with a loved one—which I am actively considering. But while I live alone, writing rules. It is a benevolent ruler—but demanding to a degree that I think most people fail to understand. Writing is not just difficult in itself, but it touches just about everything in your life.
Many people—who spend most of their waking hours interacting with others, and needing to do just that—regard my desire for solitude as odd, and almost offensive—and seem quite happy to tell me just that.
I generally reply that my requirement for solitude is based upon the dictats of my work—true but not the whole truth—and not an aversion to the human race. I’m far from sure I’m believed. People oriented people are so accustomed to company that they just cannot accept that anyone else would prefer solitude unless they were abnormal in some way.
At that stage I don’t explain further. I’m not a missionary seeking converts. I’m a writer doing what he loves as well as he can—and trying very hard to do better still. It is the struggle that gives writing its very particular edge.
Would I crave the company of people most of the time if I was not a writer?
Here I cannot advance my work argument—which at least has the merit of implying I’d be just like you except that I need to focus—and say I doubt that I would, that I have always been fairly self-contained, am largely content enough with my own company, and require a great deal of solitude so I can read and think.
That doesn’t tend to go down well—but one of the many pleasures of solitude is that, when I’m alone, by definition, such social friction doesn’t come up. Solitude may be considered weird by some, but it does have its advantages.
Does my pattern of behavior make me a recluse?
That depends on which definition of recluse you go by. One definition from Merriam-Webster is:
a person who lives alone and avoids other people.
Well, I currently live alone—so I partly qualify. But do I avoid other people? While working—yes. Socially—no. On the other hand, I don’t seek out people the way many do. I just don’t feel the need.
But, do I have friends? Yes, and many of them. One reason is that the empathy which helps me so much as a writer, helps me make friends. Another reason is that my writing, in itself, seems to make many people (not all) predisposed to like me. If they have read one of my books, they think they know me—and, in many ways, they do. Writing tends to be revealing—and my writing style is particularly so. Beyond that, I put great effort into reaching out through other forms of writing—including e-mails, which I treat as letters, and this blog.
I’ll let you make your own mind up. I rather like the Urban Dictionary definition. The first half doesn’t really apply to me—or not as implied, my motive is the need to write—but the second half makes me feel warm and fuzzy. I’m quite happy to be labeled ‘reclusive genius.’
Often times a person who rather than being crazy, is merely beyond tired of and fed up with the blatant narcissism, rudeness, ignorance, stupidity, cruelty, fakeness, hatred, etc. of the human race and chooses to detoxify themselves from the vices societies are swimming in to a greater extent than most.
Often times recluses have been known to possess extraordinary genius, talent, and/or vision often mistaken as abnormality and eccentricity by the adherents of a culture's status quo.
Labels apart, I seem to be driven by an intense desire to communicate to my fellow human beings—which scarcely strikes me as reclusiveness. After all, if I held you guys in such low esteem, why would I bother? Writing—to put it mildly—is hard work. Learning to write competently—let alone well—can take years, if not decades.
Why am I driven by such a desire to communicate?
I don’t have a ready answer to that. The drive is so strong that I accept it without further analysis—which is decidedly unlike me since I tend to analyze almost everything. But the fact that my calling is be a writer is something I accept without question. And it has been much tested. Somehow it has withstood every test from financial hardship to rejection to humiliation—and, if anything has become stronger.
Beyond that, not only do I love it with a passion beyond words, but it feels like the right thing to do. I also have the strongest feeling that it will enable me to accomplish something important beyond merely entertaining people. I’m arrogant enough to believe that I will write something which will be a force for positive change. That, if you will, is my destiny.
Do I worry about my legacy after my death? Well, I would like my heirs to benefit for some time in the future. Beyond that, I am not concerned. I suspect that most of the books I write will date and no longer be read—but one never knows. Since I won’t be around, I’m not overly interested either way.
We now come to this blog—and its rationale.
The first thing I need to say is that I didn’t want to blog initially—and for some time afterwards. I regarded social media as being trivial and a serious waste of time, and many of the blogs I read were pretty terrible.
Beyond that, I didn’t particularly want to publicize my life—specially when I was going through a difficult patch. It is one thing for a writer to issue a series of press releases announcing his latest successes. It is another thing entirely to write about his struggles—his insecurities, his rejections, his failures. I felt it would be humiliating. My ego stopped me. Shame on it!
Of course, when I thought it through, I realized that writing about my struggles would be much more interesting—but was reluctant to do that because of good old-fashioned pride. It is still a factor, though I’m coming around to the view that I would like to do it when I can figure out how.
So why did I start blogging when I had been so much against it?
I realized that I need to keep a presence for my readers—and, beyond that—that I needed to become comfortable with social media if I was to sell books—whatever about my initial reservations.
Beyond that again, my good friend, Tim Roderick—the nearest thing to a guardian angel that has ever flown an Apache AH-64 Longbow—cajoled me to keep going.
We have ways of making you write. All are painful. Some are more painful than others.
“Cajole’ might not be the right word.
I didn’t enjoy blogging at first at all. I couldn’t think what to write about, I regarded it as a major waste of time, and I couldn’t find a format I was comfortable with. That is not to say the my initial attempts were terrible—they weren’t—but they didn’t feel quite right to me.
I stopped for a while—and then a bunch of people I regarded highly contacted me and asked me why I had stopped. They liked what I was writing.
That got my attention. My readers always do.
For a short period, I then wrote the blog as a political satire in which an Eagle is picked by the powers-that-be to save the U.S. I liked that so much I turned it into a book. Why an eagle? Because humans had become so corrupted by Fast Food, consumerism, and money. In the trilogy, Eagle eventually morphs into human form and saves the day.
Inspiration then hit. I was overthinking the whole thing. I decided that in future I wouldn’t plan the blog at all. Instead, I would write about whatever occurred to me at the time. I would make the whole exercise spontaneous. It would be good exercise for my brain—if nothing else. It would drag me out of my comfort zone.
I’m not a great believer in suffering for no good reason—even if does make you stronger. In this case, I expected to suffer somewhat because trying to write several hundred words (or more) when you have nothing planned struck me as self flagellation.
On the other had, I have great faith in my brain. It just might save the day. I would only find out by trying.
Somewhat to my amazement, the effect of not planning seemed to free me up and release inspiration to a degree I would not have believed possible. I thought that would would flag after a while. Not a bit of it. Day after day the blog just flows. I’m now in my second year of just sitting down and writing.
For better or worse, you are getting a pretty good insight into what this particular writer thinks about. That said, I don’t write about confidential matters or people in any great detail though I certainly think about them—probably much more than they realize. But I write about writing and creativity a great deal—and the issues and interests that concern me. And sometimes I push the envelope and focus on the ridiculous—because where would be all be without humor? Damn depressed. It’s the WD4o of life—and I truly love the ridiculous
Do I understand why this is all working?
No. I can theorize, but there it ends.
So who am I writing for? That is the question which started this piece—and I have taken a long time to get to the answers. I have done so because every now and then I think it’s a good idea to examine why you do something—especially if it is a matter of routine (something you don’t normally think about).
Am I happy with my findings? Yes, I am. I have done a real volte-face compared to how I felt when I started blogging and now love it with a passion. The downside is the time it takes—but the benefits it brings are so considerable, it is well worth it.
- It is relaxing.
- It is enjoyable.
- It is therapeutic.
- It exercises and stimulates the brain.
- It both improves and speeds up my writing.
- It keeps me in touch
- It is fun
- It get me into the zone—the writing zone—where focus is so intense, you are freed of all stress. you just write.
Ah, but is it easy? Writing thought into words—and is is never easy—but lets just say that it flows.
I write for.
- Existing readers of my books.
- Potential readers.
- A small number of very special people starting with my #1 fan, Deb Wagoner
- All with similar concerns and interests
- Any and all writers—particularly aspiring writers—so that we can share the journey. I know how hard it is. Frankly, it doesn’t necessarily get any easier after you have had success. I’ll explain that some other time. The good news—writing is more satisfying than you can believe.
- Any and all creatives—for the same reason as stated above.
Is there anything I don’t like about blogging? Yes, there is—the name. I have tried to learn to take in my stride—but it still jars. But blogging is about writing, and that is pure joy.
VOR words 2003