These days, blogs are like assholes–everyone has one and the overwhelming majority of them stink. That’s why, when bitten by the blog bug myself, I really asked myself, “What’s your motivation? What can you do differently that other people are not already doing? What’s up with this blog thing, anyway?”
To answer the first question, my motivation is a complicated, slippery idea. On the one hand, I believe that my take on the universe is just different enough–not radically, but a bit off center, like photographs taken by my mother–to instill some level of interest in the way my warped brain works. On the other, now that I’m struggling to make my way into the hallowed ranks of the published authors, I need some avenue to let loose those ideas that, while interesting to me, may not provide fertile ground for a work of fiction to grow. My true-life struggles, dreams, and observations sometimes get woven into my stories, but never in the pure form that keeps me awake for a few minutes every night pondering.
The answer to the second question is simple: nothing. With the blogosphere expanding like nothing since the big bang, I doubt that much I say here will be very original. What I do hope is original is the way I say it, my voice that I hope will allow me to quit my miserable retail job and sit alone at a computer all day. What I say here may be controversial, politically incorrect, and socially unacceptable, but I’m not running for President, so that matters little to me.
The third question, while appearing to be the easiest, is actually the hardest. Weblogs have allowed millions of people to communicate instantly with people all over the globe, sharing ideas and inspiration in a way never before possible. They have changed the landscape of politics, culture, and, certainly, technology. The have also provided a forum for the gifted and the ungifted, the opinionated and the meek, the wise and the trifling. Through all these things, though, blogs accomplish one goal that, to me, outweighs all the perceived benefits the media and the world at large so adamantly laud.
Blogging is, in its purest form, the grand, old institution known as the essay. (Hear the collective groan from all who remember high school and college assignments.) In 1775, a poor young man in Philadelphia, practically a beggar when he arrived, published anonymously a pamphlet, an essay, if you will, in favor of American independence from the tyrannical George III of Britain. The writing was simple, but powerful; concise, yet poignant. With Common Sense, Thomas Paine produced a short, informal piece that expressed his innermost thoughts regarding the role America should play in the world and, in doing so, shifted the world in its orbit. The pamphlet spread like wildfire through the colonies and was one of the chief binding forces that enabled the founding fathers to gain enough support to go to war for their freedom and the freedom of their children.
Essays, while being reviled by anyone with a memory of their school tasks, are not the evil we all believe them to be while dissecting the factors that led to the start of World War I or inferring Steinbeck’s attitudes toward socialism in The Grapes of Wrath. The essay, formal or informal, is an age-old means of packing a great deal of thought into a small, palatable package, as Paine proved with his little piece on freedom. If nothing else, blogs have opened the world up to a new avenue of reading that may translate into a more informed public, less dependent upon Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern for their opinions.
Unlike Thomas Paine, I do not wish to change the political landscape, inspire patriotism, or incite revolution. Like Mr. Paine, however, I do hope my own common sense will provide a new window on the world, one that you may not have noticed before. I will speak of generalities of everyday life, of topics gaining national attention, of my writing and my struggles to get published, of the minutiae that we see, but don’t see, in the world around us.
In truth, I don’t know what my goal for my blog is. I hope that the few people who find their way to it find it interesting enough to return, though I can’t predict with any certainty where this little exercise will take me. I’ll let my common sense decide.