I blog for the same reason I write or read everything else that I write or read. To try and make sense of it all. To find meaning, to learn what sense others have already learned, what meaning they’ve already found. I blog to make new friends, to keep old ones, to laugh, to weep…same reasons I do most of the things that I do I guess.
I started blogging in 2005, so it’s unimaginable to me now that I might stop, but it did become increasingly clear to me that I’d lost my way a bit and I needed to stop and have a think about how I was blogging and what I wanted out of my blog. This has, not coincidentally, coincided with me having a good hard think about my writing generally. I guess by now you’ve noticed that I’m finding life a lot easier now. There’s more to my days than just one foot in front of the other and filling in time one minute to the next. These last few months, I’ve started to write again and it’s good (the feeling of it at least, the product is as hit and miss as it’s always been).
Working on a memoir, or at least knowing that I want to write a memoir, has made blogging a bit tricky. I’m never quite sure whether something that has just happened is going to be as significant as it seems, and sometimes moments of nothing turn out to be turning points. You’d look stupid if you said one thing on your blog and another in your memoir, wouldn’t you? The memoir isn’t finished, but since the beginning of this year, I’ve managed to work out what it is that the memoir will be, and I’ve got a better sense of which barrels of powder I can explode now and which ones I need to keep dry. (Which does, on rereading, make things sound a lot more exciting than they really are).
A more on-going problem than that is that I’m worried that I’m repeating myself. After five years, what do I tell you that you don’t already know? My father got sick and died long before I was ready to say goodbye to him; having no parents has left me a bit out of my depth; I live in a city I could not be less suited to; my children are growing older and won’t need me soon; I have no career to speak of; I’m struggling to understand how I became the person I am and where to take myself next. None of this changes from day to day. There’s things I haven’t written about of course, but by and large the reasons I haven’t written about those things haven’t changed, so I still can’t write about them.
Then there’s twitter and facebook and their obvious and widely-discussed impact on blogging. I’ve never been one to subscribe to the either/or of online writing and life-sharing, but I couldn’t quite work out how they all fitted together for me. it’s true that many of the things I used to put on my blog I now put on facebook, and given that there’s a fair cross-over of my friends on facebook and readers of my blog it seems redundant (and a bit weird) rewriting them on my blog. Like the stories you tell at every dinner party you go to, even though half the people have already heard you tell that one. Perhaps, I thought, it’s the difference between the macro and the micro. I can put the big things on the blog, and life’s details can be shared on facebook or twitter. But it didn’t work out. Life is never larger than when I am brushing the courtyard sand from the leaves of the mint and the basil, and no matter how gently I brush them I bruise their leaves and their scents fill the courtyard and my dreams. Micro, but not.
I thought maybe tumblr or posterous might work as a blog replacement. They seemed to let you do it all: micro, macro, short, long, linking. They looked good and fun and all sorts of things besides. But they weren’t my blog and, like twitter, they felt a bit too frenetic for me right now. Life has been so fast these last five years or so. I’ve spent so much time running to try and make it more interesting, less interesting, a different kind of interesting, that I just don’t have the energy for it all now. I’ve made a decision to live my life less quickly, and that can’t really be done on twitter or tumblr. I like to visit, but I don’t want to live there.
I thought a lot (too much?) about what I was going to do with my blog and how I was going to do it. It became obvious to me that I wanted to keep blogging, I just needed to find the right format.
I think – and this is based on nothing more than scientific or methodical than reading a zillion blogs – that blogs are generally a bit more focused than they used to be. Bloggers still keep diary-like blogs, but they more often write through the lens of cooking or reading or knitting or feminism or living simply or activism. I thought focus might work for me and might help my writing, because sometimes I don’t write (for years I haven’t written), simply because I’ve got so much rushing around in my head I don’t know where to start.
It turns out that even after reading every self-help book available and making any number of short and long term plans, I didn’t have a single focus – which was a general problem I was having with the rest of my life so it came as no great surprise – but I did manage to narrow things down. That’s why I’ve got those headings. Dispatches. Writing. Reading. Blogopera.
I’ve got not focus, but everything I write can fit into one of those. Focused but not. We’ll see how it goes.